A report from Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Governmental Relations team.
Nebraska Farm Bureau and the Chair of the Legislature’s Agriculture Committee, Sen. Steve Halloran of Hastings, hosted a group of stakeholders this week to discuss current and emerging issues related to the use of dicamba. Senators, along with representatives of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, farm organizations, and agribusiness interests, discussed the need to respond to genuine concerns related to off-target impacts of dicamba, without overreacting or further limiting proper use of dicamba. Senators heard from farm groups, including Nebraska Farm Bureau, that dicamba is an important tool when it comes to weed control, especially considering the growing need for farmers to diversify herbicide use.
Urge EPA to restore integrity to the Renewable Fuel Standard!
Nebraska Farm Bureau is asking members to submit comments to the EPA letting them know their plan to address ethanol demand loss that has occurred because of their use of Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs) isn’t acceptable. The agency’s use of SREs has increased dramatically over the past several years and has led to fewer gallons of renewable fuels being blended into gasoline. In the last three years, more than 4 billion gallons of renewable fuel obligations have been exempted. This in turn greatly impacts farmers who grow corn for ethanol as they have watched demand for their crop shrink as corn used in ethanol production fell by 229 million bushels in the last year. On top of that, these exemptions go against standards set by Congress to increase America’s energy independence through a robust renewable fuels industry. The comment period closes on November 29.
Farm Bureau Outlines Improvements Needed in House Ag Labor Bill
This week, Farm Bureau sent a letter to members of the House of Representatives detailing the improvements that need to be made to H.R. 4916, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019. The bill, which is the latest attempt to modify the nearly unworkable federal foreign workforce system, does make improvements to the current system, but still falls short of making the necessary improvements in order to earn Farm Bureau’s support. The letter, view here, lays out a number of the bill’s shortcomings including its provision on wages, the caps placed on H-2A visas, as well as the implementation of E-Verify without a workable guest worker program. While Farm Bureau cannot support the bill in its current form, both Nebraska Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau are interested in working to make necessary changes. The House will likely take up the legislation soon.
Congress Continues to Push to Change Federal Hours of Service Regulations
The Responsible & Efficient Agriculture Destination (TREAD) Act, H.R. 4919, was recently introduced in the House of Representatives. The bill would make it possible for drivers hauling live animals and agricultural commodities to finish their routes if they are within 150 air miles of their destination. This builds on the current exemption for the beginning of hauls at the ‘source’ and would simply add the term ‘destination.’ The bill additionally allows this exemption to be utilized year-round rather than only during planting and harvesting seasons. While passage of the bill as a standalone piece of legislation is unlikely, Farm Bureau will work within the House to garner as many cosponsors as possible to increase the probability of its inclusion in a possible surface transportation reauthorization bill. Nebraska Farm Bureau will be pushing Nebraska’s House members to cosponsor the legislation.