Ag groups call on Senate to confirm trade nominees

Legislative Watch: Swift confirmation of McKalip, Taylor needed; EPA announces RFS levels; legislation would provide E15 year-round; Warnock wins Georgia.

P. Scott Shearer, Vice President

December 9, 2022

3 Min Read
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Over 50 agricultural organizations are calling on the Senate to confirm the nominations of Doug McKalip to serve as Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and Alexis Taylor to serve as Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs.

In a letter to the Senate leadership, the group said, "U.S. agriculture has faced unprecedented challenges over the past several years. Between weather, transportation disruptions, increased foreign competition and the strengthening dollar, our nation's food and agriculture industries are facing significant headwinds. Twenty percent of American farm revenue comes from exports and America's farmers, ranchers, food processors, and manufacturers rely on complex and highly integrated supply chains that stretch across international borders. The food and agriculture products we export support over 1,000,000 U.S. jobs. As such, a pro-food and agriculture trade policy is a worker-centered trade policy. Swift confirmation of Mr. McKalip and Ms. Taylor is vital in supporting these U.S. workers, delivering for rural communities, and competing in global markets."

Those signing the letter included the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, Animal Health Institute, Leather and Hide Council of America, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation, North American Meat Institute and North American Renderers Association.

EPA announces RFS levels
EPA is proposing a renewable fuel standard of 20.8 billion gallons in 2023 and will increase to 22.6 billion gallons in 2025. The advanced biofuels mandate was set at 5.8 billion gallons for 2023, 6.6 billion gallons for 2024 and 7.4 billion gallons for 2025.  

Corn growers are pleased with the announcement. However, the biodiesel industry was strongly disappointed in the announcement, expecting higher levels.

National Corn Growers Association President Tom Haag said, "EPA clearly recognizes that renewable fuels like ethanol play a critical role in cutting greenhouse gas emissions, increasing U.S. energy independence and providing long-term relief to consumers at the pump. With continued pressure on energy security and costs and the need to accelerate carbon emissions reductions, biofuels can contribute even more, and will make that case to EPA for the final volumes."

The Clean Fuels Alliance America said, "EPA's overdue set proposal significantly undercounts existing biomass-based diesel production and fails to provide growth for investments the industry has already made in additional capacity, including for sustainable aviation fuel. The volumes EPA is proposing for 2023, 2024 and 2025 ignore the more than 3 billion gallons currently in the market and fail to take into account the planned growth of the clean fuels sector."

The public comment period on the proposed RFS levels closes on Feb. 10, 2023.

Legislation would provide E15 year-round
The "Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act of 2022" would allow the year-round, nationwide sale of ethanol blends higher than 10%. This would increase the availability of E15 nationwide.

Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) said, "We've long known that unleashing the full power of ethanol saves consumers money at the pump, supports family farmers, and boosts U.S. energy security. Now, however, we've been able to bring critical oil/gas, biofuel, ag, and transportation stakeholders to the table around a common-sense solution. With this strong coalition of support, it’s time Congress acts to make year-round E15 a reality."

A group of 14 bipartisan Senators joined Fischer in introducing the bill.

The bill has been endorsed by the National Corn Growers Association, Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy and the American Petroleum Institute.

Warnock wins Georgia
The last Senate race was decided on Tuesday when Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA) defeated Herschel Walker in Georgia's runoff election. In the 118th Congress, Democrats will control the Senate 51-49, a pickup of one seat. Warnock is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Source: P. Scott Shearer, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset. The opinions of this writer are not necessarily those of Farm Progress/Informa.

About the Author(s)

P. Scott Shearer

Vice President, Bockorny Group, Inc.

Scott Shearer is vice president of the Bockorny Group Inc., a leading bipartisan government affairs consulting firm in Washington, D.C. With more than 30 years experience in government and corporate relations in state and national arenas, he is recognized as a leader in agricultural trade issues, having served as co-chairman of the Agricultural Coalition for U.S.-China Trade and co-chairman of the Agricultural Coalition for Trade Promotion Authority. Scott was instrumental in the passage of China Permanent Normal Trade Relations and TPA. He is past chairman of the USDA-USTR Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Animals and Animal Products and was a member of the USAID Food Security Advisory Committee. Prior to joining the Bockorny Group, Scott served as director of national relations for Farmland Industries Inc., as well as USDA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs (1993-96), serving as liaison for the Secretary of Agriculture and the USDA to Congress.

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