Issue Update: Mid-Terms Bring About Different Priorities for House Committees

Dave Ladd, President of RDL & Associates, was recently a guest on the Linder Farm Network to provide an assessment of the changes brought about in the United States House of Representatives committee priorities due to the mid-term elections.

For additional information, please contact RDL & Associates at (651) 247-5458 or rdlassociatesga@gmail.com.

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Energy and Commerce Republicans Not Done With RFS Yet (via Congressional Quarterly)

Energy and Commerce Republicans vowed to tackle the increasingly complicated EPA standard for biofuel use as part of their 115th Congress agenda. After almost two years of negotiations, the key subcommittee chairman responsible for the effort says they are close to releasing bill text when the House returns from recess.

 

That timing would appear to be too late for passage this Congress. But it may help shape the debate for the next one as lawmakers begin to take a more serious look at the controversial Renewable Fuel Standard, over which Congress loses substantial oversight in 2022.

 

Those efforts may also be doubly complicated by the Trump administration. Oil industry advocates ramped up rhetoric last week in response to rumors the EPA may seek to remove regulations that restrict the use of motor fuel made of 15 percent ethanol during the summer months – a key policy lever in Congress’ attempt to satisfy corn state and oil state lawmaker demands.

 

But according to Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., the chairman of the Environment Subcommittee, Republicans are in a position to have their staff construct bill language for release when lawmakers return from their October break.

 

“In other words, put language together over the break to drop something once we get back to either see if there is a sweet spot or kind of set the debate for the next Congress,” Shimkus told CQ. He added that his hope is to “make it palatable enough that at least there is some optimism that you might be able to do something. It’s very hard.”

 

The RFS program, established by Congress to mandate blending of certain amounts of biofuels like ethanol in the nation’s transportation fuel mix, has become a political headache for Republicans. With lawmakers split on the program more along regional lines than traditional partisan ones, the policy and its implementation has prompted calls for an overhaul to appease concerns from both corn state lawmakers who want to see wider ethanol use, and oil state lawmakers aiming to protect their share of the fuel market.

 

As part of the law establishing the standard, Congress set target thresholds for the annual amount of corn- and other plant-derived fuel that should be added into the mix. Those targets expire after 2022, when the EPA will be in control of how much biofuel is required, introducing some uncertainty into how the program will move forward.

 

“We still have RFS we are trying to work out,” said Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore. “In 2022, EPA gets all the authority. That might just bring people to the table that don’t want to spend a lot of time at the table now. We have had good discussions.”

 

Shimkus has teamed with Rep. Bill Flores, R-Texas, to find a solution that both sides can support. Flores, along with Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., introduced legislation that would direct the EPA to set the maximum volume of ethanol blended into the transportation fuel supply at 9.7 percent – a starting point for negotiations.

 

E15

 

That would be a lower target than what is currently in law, angering the ethanol lobby, but it is widely expected that any comprehensive RFS overhaul bill would also include a provision to enable the year-long sale of E15.

 

The Trump administration is expected to issue a decision in the near future – likely lifting the summer ban on the sale of E15. Iowa Sen. Charles E. Grassley said in a Tuesday call with reporters that he has heard of conversations indicating that the White House is working on a decision, but that he has not heard anything “very definitive.”

 

Such an order may diminish the urgency for an RFS overhaul on the part of corn-state lawmakers.

 

“If we could have moved our legislation earlier, [E15] would be enshrined in code, and people understand that,” Shimkus said. “But when you do it from the EPA, then you don’t have the other benefits of language that mitigates the refiners’ concerns or anybody else. We are trying to get to that middle ground.”

 

Frank Macchiarola a director at the American Petroleum Institute, told reporters in a Friday call that he expects the EPA to issue a decision on E15 sometime in October. He said a waiver of the restriction would be “a flawed, anti-consumer policy.”

 

The petroleum group, which represent more than 600 oil and gas companies, strongly opposes higher ethanol blends and has mounted a campaign to push back against calls for lifting E15 restrictions.

 

The EPA has barred the sale of E15 between June 1 and Sept. 15 because it has been found to contribute to increased summer smog.

 

Under pressure from biofuel groups and Midwestern lawmakers including Grassley and Sen. Joni Ernst, whose state of Iowa is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the RFS, President Donald Trump in May announced that it would take steps to allow for the year-round sale of E15. That decision came after a series of meetings with lawmakers and industry representatives at the White House.

 

“We understand that the president wants to find a solution but we also understand that what the EPA is [proposing] is failing in regards to finding a win-win situation,” Macchiarola said. “Our view is that going above 9.7 percent of ethanol creates a series of cascading problems.”

 

The group, which would like to see the Renewable Fuel Standard expire in 2022, has argued that many cars are not compatible with higher ethanol blends.

KDUZ “Farm Forum”

Dave Ladd, President of RDL & Associates, was a guest on KDUZ Radio’s “Farm Forum” program to discuss the 2018 Farm Bill, trade agreements, affordability of health insurance for farmers, agricultural trade with Cuba and renewable fuels.

For additional information, please contact RDL & Associates at (651) 247-5458 or rdlassociatesga@gmail.com.

Media Release: Daley Farm Announces Expansion and Modernization

September 24, 2018

Lewiston, Minnesota – Daley Farm of Lewiston, a 6th-Generation family-run dairy farm located in Southeast Minnesota, has announced plans for an expansion and modernization project that includes construction of a new free stall barn for 3,000 dairy cows and a new milking parlor.  The current facility will house animals that haven’t yet entered the milking herd.

The project will also require additional alfalfa acreage, a highly nutritional animal feed which also aids in the prevention of soil erosion, increases nutrients in the soil, and provides organic matter.

“I am really excited about the investment my family is making on behalf of myself and my siblings” said Dylan DePestel.  “This project will allow for us to continue implementing best practices and up-to-date technologies that conserve natural resources and reduce energy consumption”.

“Our family has been an integral part of the community for decades.  The next generation who will carry forward our family’s legacy see this project as an opportunity to continue contributing to our local community while being good stewards of our land and water” said Gabe Daley, one of five cousins who have chosen to return to the farm after graduating from college.

“Daley Farm has always been open to the public and we look forward to continued engagement with the community on our new project” said Shelly DePestel, CFO of Daley Farm of Lewiston.

Founded by John Daley in 1859 with an initial purchase of 80 acres, the family and farm have been a mainstay of the local community for over 150 years.  The project will assist in passing on the farming operation to the next generation, thereby allowing the family-run dairy to continue operating for the long-term.

https://www.dropbox.com/home/RDL%20%26%20Associates/Clients/Daley%20Farm%20of%20Lewiston?preview=Media+Release+-+Daley+Farm+of+Lewiston+Expansion.pdf

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Client Spotlight: 40 Square Cooperative Solutions

40 Square Cooperative Solutions, an independent Minnesota agricultural health plan co-op providing farm families and agribusinesses access to self-funded health insurance options, is ramping up for its second year of open enrollment beginning November 1, 2018 and running through December 19, 2018.

Char Vrieze, Executive Director of 40 Square, is thrilled with last year ’s enrollment outcome which yielded more than 1,000 individuals, with the initial goal of 500. But she credits the strength of Minnesota’s cooperatives to 40 Square’s success. Minnesota is the leading cooperative state in the nation with more than 600 co-ops headquartered here – many of which are engaged in production agriculture. “Like other co-ops that have led the way for strong agriculture communities, 40 Square is helping to preserve the proud traditions of farming to generations to come,” said Vrieze.

Structure of Cooperative and Health Plan

The 40 Square co-op is governed by a board of directors, elected by its members/patrons. Fifty-one percent of governance is members and patrons, 49 percent is investment partners.

Participant members pay into the co-op to self-fund the health plan. Those premium dollars are then placed into a Trust, only to be used for health plan expenses. The Trust is governed by a separate board of directors comprised of members and plan participants. All health plan participants have 100 percent ownership interest in the Trust.

Health Plan Details

40 Square currently offers six health plans to choose from, including health savings account (HSA) eligible plans. Similar to traditional health insurance, 40 Square’s self-funded plans have an annual deductible, coinsurance and copays that members are responsible for. The amount of coverage you receive depends on the plan selected. Additional benefits being offered include vision, dental and life. Other products to enhance the health plan include hearing benefits, free telemedicine doctor visits, care navigators that help explain tests, claims or billing, and a partnership with Agriplan, which offers the ability to declare medical expenses as a business expense on taxes.

Membership Criteria

To become a member of 40 Square, farm families and agribusinesses must meet certain criteria. They must:

  • Actively work in production agriculture in Minnesota
  • File either Form 1065 or Schedule F with their income tax return or provide direct services to production agriculture in Minnesota. This includes farm corporations and businesses who predominately receive their income from providing their services to production agriculture
  • Purchase Voting Stock in an amount of $100 (one-time, only for the farm/business/employer)
  • Purchase Common Stock of $1,000 over the first year (one-time, only for the farm/business/employer)
  • Have a minimum of one “Common Law” employee. (In general, someone who you provide a W-2, does not have to be a full-time employee; for example, it may be a spouse who does the farm books.)

Membership can be extended to include farm corporations as well as agricultural-related businesses who receive at least 70 percent their income from providing services to production agriculture. All members must commit to a three-year term with a risk of forfeiting all or a portion of their investment if they leave the co-op before their term has expired.

Contact

 Interested in joining more than 1,000 Minnesotans who call 40 Square their health plan co-op?

Visit www.40Square.coop to learn more about its health plans, doctor network and more, or contact info@40square or (844) 205-9579.

Issue Update: Impact of Sequestration on Commodity Payments

Dave Ladd, President of RDL & Associates, was recently a guest on the Linder Farm Network to discuss the impact of sequestration on commodity payment mechanisms.

For additional information regarding this and other public policy issues, please contact RDL & Associates at rdlassociatesga@gmail.com.

Issue Update: Impact of Sequestration on Commodity Payments

 

Issue Update: Senate Consideration of the 2018 Farm Bill

Dave Ladd, President of RDL & Associates, was recently a guest on the Linder Farm Network to provide an update regarding consideration of the Senate-version of the 2018 Farm Bill.

For additional information regarding this and other public policy issues, please contact RDL & Associates at rdlassociatesga@gmail.com.

Issue Update: Senate Consideration of the 2018 Farm Bill

Branstad in China says U.S. will keep trade pressure on (via Brownfield Ag News)

The U.S. Ambassador to China tells farm broadcasters the Trump Administration will continue to stand firm on trade issues with China and will protect U.S. farmers, “We get this resolved, the potential here is great. Nearly 1.4 Billion people. A growing middle class with their income going up an average of six-and-three-quarters-percent a year. This is a significant market.”

Ambassador and former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad told Brownfield Ag News and the other National Association of Farm Broadcasters (NAFB) reporters who arrived in China this weekend that China has to change to avoid a trade war with the U.S.

Branstad says the administration is not willing to accept only a few changes in China’s policies while the trade deficit grows larger and the stealing of intellectual property and transfer of assess gets worse – and, he says, China knows it, “They recognize that they can’t produce enough soybeans or some of these food items, agriculture items, that they need on their own.”

Branstad the trade potential with China is huge because it can’t produce all the food and protein it needs to meet the needs of its middle class AND that Chinese consumers like the quality of U.S. food.

Link: https://brownfieldagnews.com/news/branstad-in-china-says-u-s-will-keep-trade-pressure-on/

Issue Update: Near-term Prospects for Passage of the 2018 Farm Bill

Dave Ladd, President of RDL & Associates, was recently interviewed by Linda Brekke of the Linder Farm Network to provide an update regarding committee passage of the Senate version of the 2018 Farm Bill and the possibility of a short-term extension of the current legislation.

Committee Passage of the Senate Farm Bill

Near-term Prospects for Passage of the 2018 Farm Bill

If you would like additional information regarding these or other policy issues, please contact RDL & Associates at RDLAssociatesga@gmail.com.