May 28, 2024

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Daybreak July 18: Biden: I won’t back down on climate action

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President Joe Biden is insisting that he will pursue his climate agenda by executive action, now that Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., appears to have killed any hope of passing a package of clean energy incentives and farm bill conservation funding. 
 
“My actions will create jobs, improve our energy security, bolster domestic manufacturing and supply chains, protect us from oil and gas price hikes in the future, and address climate change.  I will not back down: the opportunity to create jobs and build a clean energy future is too important to relent,” Biden said.

Why it matters: The proposed funding for climate-smart agriculture represented “the best chance in a generation to begin to bring conservation funding more in line with farmer demand,” said Ferd Hoefner, a farm policy consultant.

By the way: Manchin’s move has angered progressive Democrats. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., questioned why Manchin is chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., who chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said it was “simply untenable that one senator can dictate the course for the entire country, condemn future generations to life on a warming planet.”

House Rules preps FY23 spending package

The House is set to debate a fiscal 2023 spending package this week that includes funding for USDA, FDA, EPA and the Interior Department. Republicans hope to get votes on a series of amendments that could put Democrats on the spot on a range of regulatory issues, including the “waters of the U.S.” rules the Biden administration is developing.

The House Rules Committee meets Monday to decide which amendments will get debated on the floor. Most of those being offered by Republicans are likely to get scrapped.

The $27.2 billion spending provisions for USDA and FDA would provide significant new funding for conservation technical assistance, rural broadband and food safety.
 
For more on this week’s D.C. agenda, read our Washington Week Ahead

EPA to convene FIFRA scientific advisory panel on atrazine
 
The Environmental Protection Agency will convene a formal Scientific Advisory Panel on risks posed by atrazine to aquatic plants.
 
The agency had said there would be an “external peer review” of its proposed risk management strategy for the herbicide, but had not said what form that would take. EPA has proposed growers reduce the amount of the herbicide applied and employ a mix of conservation practices, depending on the level of atrazine already in their watersheds.
 
In response to inquiries from Agri-Pulse, the agency said it would convene the SAP on “the risks to the aquatic plant community” underlying the proposed strategy. “This is in line with the agency’s commitment to science and scientific integrity, and will incorporate the feedback it receives” on its recently announced final revisions to the interim decision.
 
The Triazine Network, a coalition of ag groups, said it had been told “several times” by EPA that the agency would convene an SAP on the proposed “aquatic plant community” level of 3.4 parts per billion of atrazine (known as the CE-LOC), once the comment period on the latest changes has ended in September.
 
Nevertheless, “We insist that EPA issue a written statement confirming the plan to hold this SAP in order to remove any confusion about this process,” Greg Krissek, co-chair of The Triazine Network and CEO of the Kansas Corn Growers Association, said in an email.
 
“The Network believes that this is an absolutely necessary and critical step for the agency to follow the best and established science on this topic,” Krissek said.
 
In other EPA news: The agency and biofuel trade association Growth Energy are expected today to announce the finalization of a consent decree that will set the timeline for the 2023 biofuel mandate blending targets. Under the decree, the initial proposal would be due Sept. 16 and finalization would be required by April 28, 2023.
 
USSEC optimistic for USDA trade mission to Philippines
 
The U.S. Soybean Export Council says it’s happy to be a part of a delegation to the Philippines led by USDA Foreign Agricultural Service Administrator Daniel Whitley.
 
The USDA trade mission to a key nation for U.S. ag exports in Southeast Asia kicks off today in Manila. USSEC has been recently highlighting the Philippines as a strong and growing market for U.S. soymeal as the country expands its aquaculture sector.

“USDA Agricultural Trade Missions provide critical opportunities for U.S. Soy representatives to connect with key export markets such as the Philippines, which is the largest importer of U.S. soybean meal globally,” says USSEC Chairman Doug Winter. “The valuable conversations that take place with customers about the quality and sustainability of U.S. Soy supports our continued market access and equal opportunities, and we are pleased to be part of this important mission.”

FCC chair calls for update to minimum broadband speeds
 
Jessica Rosenworcel, chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission, is pushing to increase the national standards for minimum broadband download speed to 100 megabits per second and upload speed to 20 megabits.
 
On July 15, Rosenworcel circulated a “Notice of Inquiry” to the other commissioners proposing the increase, as well as a long-term national goal of 1 gigabyte per second download and 500 megabits per second upload. The current benchmark is 25 megabits per second for downloads and 3 megabits per second for uploads.
 
“The 25/3 metric isn’t just behind the times, it’s a harmful one because it masks the extent to which low-income neighborhoods and rural communities are being left behind and left offline,” she said in a statement.
 
He said it: “Based on current seed technology and changes that we know are coming in temperature in terms of rain and drought cycles, by mid-century, we don’t have corn that will grow in Illinois. We won’t have corn that will germinate in time.” – Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill., speaking at a climate-smart agriculture webinar hosted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

Questions, comments, tips? Email steve@agri-pulse.com

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