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POLICY WATCH

Bill to Help Boost Ethanol Sale Voted Out of Committee

A Nebraska Farm Bureau supported bill to help make ethanol more available across the state is expected to be debated on General File by the full Legislature next week. LB562 (Introduced and prioritized by Sen. Dorn) will ensure that consumers can access E15 at gas stations across the state. Only about 100 gas stations currently sell E15. It also requires newly constructed gas stations in 2024 and beyond to sell E15 at half of their qualifying pumps. E15 is approved for use in all cars made after 2001 and is cheaper for the consumer, cleaner burning, and benefits Nebraska farmers. LB562 sets a goal for Nebraska to have a 14 percent ethanol blend rate (the average amount of ethanol sold per gallon of motor fuel) by the end of 2027. If the target blend rate is not reached, all gas stations would be required to sell E15 at one pump beginning in 2028. Each year, roughly 30 percent of field corn goes into fuel ethanol. Ethanol is the second-largest customer for U.S. corn.

EPA Announces Proposed Vehicle Emission Standards

This week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new proposed emissions standards for light-, medium-, and heavy-duty vehicles for model year (MY) 2027 and beyond. The proposal is aimed at accelerating growth of electric vehicles to fight climate change. Farm Bureau is deeply concerned by EPA’s proposal and the impact on cost and availability of new trucks that farmers and ranchers depend upon. EPA estimates its main proposal would mean electric vehicles rising to 60 percent of light-duty sales — sedans, SUVs, pickups, and vans — by 2030, and 67 percent in 2032. That’s up from roughly 10 percent today. Electric models would be 50 percent of sales of new heavy-duty vocational vehicles in 2032.

Farm Bureau policy opposes excessive increases in Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards and standards that reduce the availability and increase the cost of trucks. These proposed standards also will decrease the demand for liquid transportation fuels and do not seem to account for the emissions reduction benefits of biofuels. Farm Bureau is disappointed that EPA is appearing to ignore the emissions reduction benefits of biofuels.

A New Rat Race?

John Walt Boatright
Director, Government Affairs, AFBF

No, this is not an amended take on our hectic daily schedules, nor is it a preview to the sequel of the mediocre 2001 comedy film.

This, quite literally, is about rats. And the race to limit the ability of individuals and businesses to control them and other destructive and prolific rodents.

The Environmental Protection Agency seeks to drastically curtail how we manage rodent populations in the United States. It’s part of a broader effort to consider any adverse effects on wildlife species and habitats when evaluating the continued use of pesticides. Under the Endangered Species Act, these chemicals must be reviewed at regular intervals, with consultations among agency professionals and stakeholders to assess environmental impacts and potential threats to wildlife.

For many years, due to a workload that does not match agency resources, EPA has struggled to meet this obligation. After multiple lawsuits, EPA has now changed its tune, undertaking a new process for issuing regulations intended to protect wildlife that is not supported by science and has proven to be unrealistic for applicators.

Rodents can wreak enormous havoc at each stage of the food production process.

The stakes for America’s farmers and ranchers are high. Rodents can wreak enormous havoc at each stage of the food production process. If left unchecked, they can damage crops, infiltrate feed supplies, harass livestock and spread disease.

Farmers and ranchers are not alone in facing a future with stricter limitations on rodent control methods. These new regulations will affect pest control companies, restaurants, schools, childcare and assisted living facilities, city subways, parks and other recreation areas, and other establishments that must keep pest populations at bay.

Losing access to rodenticides rewinds us back to the days of classroom history lessons, when teachers regaled young students with stories of frequently treacherous ocean voyages. The voyages were perilous not solely because of the high seas or swashbuckling pirates, but because of deadly illness spread by stowaway rats.

Fast forwarding to today, we should take into account the lessons of previous plagues. We must have effective tools to combat the real hazards posed by rampant pest populations.

Destructive and disease-causing pests are nothing new in daily life on the farm. Rodents affect the rest of society too in myriad ways. Unfortunately, EPA’s flawed proposal on rodenticides bodes poorly for the hundreds of other pesticides that could face a similar fate.

That’s why Farm Bureau continues to challenge EPA on this troubling approach, encouraging more opportunities for substantive stakeholder consultation and emphasizing the importance of the best available science when restrictions on pesticide use are considered.

EPA must preserve modern scientific innovation and keep us in the race against rodent pests. Addressing environmental challenges by making it more difficult and costly to control rodents is not an acceptable answer.

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