Legislative Watch: Disappointment with EPA RFS waivers; seeking new members of trade advisory committees; China to cut tariffs.

P. Scott Shearer, Vice President

December 27, 2019

3 Min Read
Corn piles outside of an ethanol plant
Getty Images/iStockphoto

In a major disappointment to corn farmers and the ethanol industry, the Environmental Protection Agency has decided to stick with its earlier announcement regarding waived biofuel volumes under the Renewable Fuels Standard. The EPA will use a three-year rolling average of the Department of Energy's recommended small refinery exemptions instead of actual volumes waived. Actual volumes waived is higher than DOE's recommendation.

The Renewable Fuels Association President Geoff Cooper says, "After EPA's overwrought abuse of the SRE program in recent years, agency officials had a chance to finally make things right with this final rule — but they blew it. EPA's rule fails to deliver on President Trump's commitment to restore integrity to the RFS, and it fails to provide the market certainty desperately needed by ethanol producers, farmers and consumers looking for lower-cost, cleaner fuel options. While the final rule is an improvement over the original proposal, it still does not guarantee that the law's 15-billion-gallon conventional biofuel blending requirement will be fully enforced by EPA in 2020."

The number of small refinery waivers has dramatically increased under the Trump administration. The EPA approved 31 waivers from the RFS in 2018, compared to 35 waivers for 2017. The Obama administration granted seven waivers in its last year.

USDA-USTR trade advisory committees seek new members
USDA and the U.S. Trade Representative are accepting applications for new members to serve on seven agricultural trade advisory committees.

The Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee advises USDA and USTR on operating existing U.S. trade agreements, on negotiating new agreements and on other trade policy matters.

Members of six Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees "provide technical advice on and guidance on international trade issues that affect both domestic and foreign production in specific commodity sectors." The ATACs focus on trade in:

  • Animals and animal products;

  • Fruits and vegetables;

  • Grains, feed, oilseeds and planting seeds;

  • Processed foods;

  • Sweeteners and sweetener products; and

  • Tobacco, cotton and peanuts.

Applicants must have expertise in both agriculture and international trade matters. Committee members serve four-years terms and represent a cross section of U.S. food and agriculture. Members must be U.S. citizens and pass a security clearance.

Application instructions are available on the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service website. Applications must be received by 5 p.m. ET on Jan. 31.

China to cut tariffs
China's Customs Tariff Commission announced it will lower tariffs on 859 goods, including frozen pork and various types of semiconductors, beginning Jan. 1. The tariff on frozen pork muscle cuts will be reduced from 12% to 8%. Tariffs on frozen avocado will go from 30% to 7% and various semiconductor tariffs will drop to zero.

President Trump has indicated that he and President Xi Jinping are expected to sign the phase-one trade agreement sometime in January.

Source: P. Scott Shearer, which 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.

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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