RFA Optimistic About Trump Cabinet Choices and Ethanol Future (via Renewable Fuels Association)

Ethanol interests may be getting a little nervous about the oil industry ties of several Trump administration cabinet selections. In this interview, Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen provides his comments on the selections and optimism for an EPA under new management.
The report is voiced by reporter Cindy Zimmerman in the format of a complete program called “The Ethanol Report.” Sound bites from the report can be found below. Please feel free to use as you wish, edited or in its complete form. If you have any problems downloading the audio files, please contact ZimmComm New Media at 850-780-6617.
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Some in the ethanol industry are concerned about recent appointments by President-elect Trump to key administration positions of people who have strong ties to the oil industry. Those include former Texas Governor Rick Perry for energy secretary, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt for EPA administrator and ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen says really all that matters is who is in charge.
Dinneen is optimistic about working with and educating members of the new Trump administration and increasing the availability of ethanol for consumers.
Dinneen notes that the agency Rick Perry will run, the Energy Department, just came out with some good news showing that ethanol has broken through the blend wall without the world coming to an end.
The new EPA, to be run by Oklahoma’s Pruitt, will be responsible for continued rulemaking under the RFS, like the Renewables Enhancement and Growth Support (REGS) rule which was the subject of a hearing last week in Chicago where RFA testified.

Trump has yet to announce his pick for agriculture secretary, another influential cabinet position when it comes to renewable fuels, but that should be forthcoming soon.

Government Relations Firms Launch Agriculture Practice

Joint venture will leverage decades of experience on behalf of agriculture and rural America

Washington, D.C. – Aronnax Public Strategies (APS) and RDL & Associates have entered into a joint venture that will provide a unique Federal and State government affairs and strategic communications service for the agriculture sector.

“State lobbying and federal lobbying are not mutually exclusive and our affiliation provides clients with a presence in the halls of Congress and within the Executive Branch while also engaging stakeholders and policymakers throughout the United States” said Fred Starzyk, Principal of APS.  “This collaboration between federal and state government affairs teams creates additional opportunities and efficiencies for our client, providing a true team approach when it comes to our clients’ government relations needs.”

The joint venture, known as Heartland Advocates, creates additional opportunities and efficiencies for clients and builds on APS’ successful FedState Network model.  This government affairs team approach allows clients to be engaged in all aspects of government affairs and strategic communications while helping them manage their political capital effectively and efficiently.

“Although the current Farm Bill is not scheduled to expire until 2018, reauthorization discussions are currently underway as to what the next bill should look like.  Coalitions are being formed, policies are being considered and strategic planning by stakeholders is well underway” said Dave Ladd, President of RDL & Associates.  “None of the issues will be considered in a vacuum because the agriculture policy playing field is extremely complex.  This is why it is important to have representation at both the state and federal levels of government.”

In today’s policy environment, a strategic and tactical communications and government relations plan allows for an organization to effectively hit the ground running at the federal, state and local levels of government and across business sectors.

About Aronnax Public Strategies LLC

Aronnax Public Strategies LLC, located in the heart of our nation’s capital, provides a wide range of services, including: federal and state lobbying, strategic advocacy planning, grassroots organization, public relations, policy research services, legislative tracking, grant writing and procurement, association management and federal contracting services.

About RDL & Associates LLC

RDL & Associates LLC, headquartered in St. Paul, MN, assists clients seeking solutions on issues impacting agriculture and the rural economy.  The firm has a broad range of contacts at the federal, regional and state levels, as well as with key leaders in production agriculture, the renewable energy sector, agribusiness, financial institutions, state and federal government and Capitol Hill

For inquiries please contact:

Fred Starzyk, Principal                                    Dave Ladd, President
Aronnax Public Strategies LLC                       RDL & Associates LLC
Tel: (202) 549-2363                                         Tel: (651) 247-5458
E-mail: fstarzyk@aronnaxllc.com                   E-mail: daveladd66@gmail.com

Link: http://www.feedstuffs.com/news/government-relations-firms-launch-ag-practice

 

Can Farm Groups and Trump Work Out Their Differences? (via Successful Farming)

Anti-GMO activists and consumer groups wrestled the farm lobby to a tie last summer and forced them to accept mandatory disclosure of GMO ingredients in food – reversing two decades of federal policy – in exchange for preemption of state GMO label laws, including one that took effect in Vermont on July 1. “Ultimately, it was a compromise. Most people on both sides would say it’s an ugly compromise,” says president Roger Johnson of the National Farmers Union.

The GMO compromise raised the question of whether ag was losing power in Washington. Only a year earlier, a federal ban of state GMO label laws looked like a slam-dunk for farm groups and food processors. Agriculture lost three state-level votes November 8: 1) A right-to-farm constitutional amendment in Oklahoma, 2) Livestock welfare rules in Massachusetts, 3) The governor’s race in Missouri, where leading farm groups backed Chris Koster, the attorney general who contested the Midwestern impact of a California law on egg imports.

None of it matters as president-elect Donald Trump prepares for inauguration on January 20. Rural America voted 2-to-1 for the Republican businessman, who promised to protect the Renewable Fuels Standard, provide tax relief to farmers, and eliminate burdensome regulations such as the Waters of the United States rule. The rural vote was key to Trump’s victory. Democrat Hillary Clinton drubbed him 3-2 in cities and barely lost to Trump in the suburbs, the heart of the U.S. population.

“One might say agriculture has more clout than before,” says NFU’s Johnson. “I think they elected him.”

The largest U.S. farm group, the Farm Bureau, took the same view. “Rural America clearly made a difference in this election,” says Farm Bureau president Zippy Duvall. “Now it’s time for our newly elected leaders to turn up for rural America and keep their campaign promises by addressing the issues that matter to people who sent them to Washington.”

Even in the early, heady days of the transition, it was clear that farm groups and the Trump camp differ on trade and immigration policy as much as they agree on tax and regulatory reform.

Trump opposed the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement as a candidate, said he would renegotiate NAFTA, and threatened 45% tariffs on Chinese-made imports – steps that would affect four of the top five markets for U.S. ag exports: China, Canada, Mexico, and Japan.

The rhetoric softened somewhat when the transition began. “Too many American jobs have been lost over the last decade because of trade deals that do not put Americans first. The new administration will make it more desirable for companies to stay, create jobs here, pay taxes here, and rebuild our economy,” said the Trump team.

Of every $1 in net farm income, 20¢ is generated by ag exports. “It is impossible to overstate the importance of trade,” says Ron Moore, president of the American Soybean Association. Half of U.S. soybeans are exported, with China as the top buyer; Mexico is number 2. Roughly 40% of the U.S. wheat crop and 14% of the corn harvest go to foreign markets. U.S. farm groups generally supported TPP as a lever for wider access to Japan’s food market. “He’s going to have to have some solutions for that,” says Duvall, referring to the promise to renegotiate NAFTA. “How are you going to protect agriculture when you do that?”

In his first visit to Capitol Hill as president-elect, Trump said immigration will be one of his three priorities on taking office. His team outlined 10 points for action, including a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, enforcement of all immigration laws, and reforming the immigration system “to serve the best interests of America and its workers.”

Half or more of U.S. farmworkers are believed to be undocumented. “We are going to enforce the law,” said Sam Clovis, cochair of the Trump campaign, during the election’s final weeks. In words aimed to reassure farmers and ranchers, Clovis said, “People will have to be legal to work in this country, but we will work with them to create a temporary worker program … We’re not going to do anything that will cripple any industry.” Clovis’ role in the new administration was not immediately clear. Trump’s transition team includes immigration hard-liners.

“There’s a lot more uncertainty” than usual for an incoming administration, says Johnson. “We know a fair amount of what he (Trump) is against and less what he’s for.” Trump said little about farm policy and particularly about the looming issue in farm country – the new farm bill that’s scheduled for 2018.

Ordinarily, lawmakers would begin work on a farm bill by gathering grassroots input this year in order to draft a bill next winter. There is pressure to move quicker because of the sustained downturn in commodity prices and farm income.

A Purdue University survey taken before November 8 shows 80% of farmers expect bad financial times in the 12 months ahead.

“I think we need to do a 2017 farm bill instead of 2018,” says Charles Grassley (R-IA), a Senate Agriculture Committee member. The top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, Collin Peterson (MN), has also suggested early action. Congress traditionally takes the lead in writing a farm bill with the White House in an advisory role.

“I suspect there will be an attempt to pass, or at least discuss, farm legislation in 2017. It may be difficult to come to an agreement on a particular bill, even if there were agreement that there are problems that shouldn’t wait,” says Pat Westhoff of think tank FAPRI. Grain farmers unhappy with county-to-county variations in payment rates under ARC may look for a chance to switch to PLC. Cotton growers and dairy farmers want wholesale change in their supports. Those revisions could easily drive up farm program costs at a time of emphasis on reducing the size of the government.

Minn. farmers, dependent on exports, keep close watch on Trump’s trade policy (via MPR)

Brad Nelson, a farmer who lives near Albert Lea, voted for Donald Trump last month. The 58-year-old agreed with the president-elect on many issues, like cutting regulations on agriculture and reducing health care costs.

But Trump also threatened sharply higher tariffs on Chinese products, once saying that “China is ripping us off like nobody has ever seen.”

However, Minnesota farmers like Nelson count on billions of dollars in exports to overseas markets — especially to China. “Our exports to China obviously have exploded the last 10 or 15 years,” said Nelson.

If Trump really goes after China, the likely retaliation could hurt U.S. farmers. Now, they’re waiting to see what the Trump administration actually does.

Rural Minnesota voted resoundingly for Trump, even though the candidate hammered trade deals as a centerpiece of his campaign.

Those deals can be crucial for farmers’ livelihoods.

“Without access to the export market, we’d be in some trouble,” said Joel Wiering, grain manager at the CHS terminal in the southwest Minnesota town of Ruthton.

About 60 percent of the soybeans moving through the Ruthton elevator this year — about $30 million worth — will wind up overseas. That’s just a drop in the bucket compared to the over $2 billion soybean exports bring to Minnesota’s agricultural economy each year.

Minnesota exports close to half its soybeans, according to Ed Usset, a University of Minnesota grain marketing economist. And Asian economies — especially China — are hot markets for them.

Overseas demand has helped keep soybean prices from falling even more during a mostly down time in agricultural markets. Soybeans are below break-even for most farmers, but prices probably would be a lot worse without the robust exports.

Farm income is projected to fall more than 17 percent this year, and many farms will struggle to show a profit.

Farmers with long memories can recall the last time agricultural products got tangled up in the world politics. That was in 1980 when President Jimmy Carter halted grain sales to the Soviet Union in retaliation for its invasion of Afghanistan.

“I am determined to minimize any adverse impact on the American farmer from this action,” Carter said at the time.

But despite that residential pledge, the nation’s largest agricultural group said the embargo cost farmers $1 billion and permanently disrupted the grain trade.

Now, farmers hope the Trump administration avoids a repeat.

Nelson is optimistic it will, mostly based on comments from a key Trump adviser during the campaign.

In September, campaign co-chair Sam Clovis said on the radio program AgriTalk that a President Trump would only change failed trade policies. With farm exports booming, Clovis said, there probably was little need for adjustments in the agricultural sector.

For now, farmers will have to wait and see.

“It’s an unknown factor right now,” Nelson said, “because you don’t know what anybody’s going to do at any given time.”

The article can be accessed here: http://www.mprnews.org/story/2016/12/05/farmers-watch-trump-trade-policy

United States Senate and House of Representatives Calendars – 115th Congress

The majority leaders of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives have released the tentative calendars for their respective chambers.  Although the schedules are subject to change, based upon the flow of legislation and shifting priorities throughout the year, these calendars provide an important roadmap for interested parties as they engage the United States Congress.

For additional information, or to engage the services of RDL & Associates in preparation for the 115th Congress, please contact us at (651) 247-5458 or via e-mail at daveladd66@gmail.com.

United States Senate:

http://www.senate.gov/legislative/2017_schedule.htm

United States House of Representatives:

https://www.majorityleader.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/2017-MONTHLY-CALENDAR.pdf

Combined Senate/House Calendar (via Roll Call):

Lobbyist warns new leaders to heed ag issues (via The Land)

Passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership in this lame-duck session of Congress could leave some scars for the Trump presidency.

“Donald Trump may have kicked over the apple cart, but he didn’t break the axle,” contends Dave Ladd of RDL and Associates in Woodbury, Minn. Ladd is a veteran lobbyist and Washington, D.C., observer, who was interviewed at the AgriGrowth Annual Meeting and Conference on Nov. 10.

“We think through the lens of agriculture. Generally speaking, the majority of agricultural groups support trade,” Ladd said. “But the devil is always in the details of trade agreements. Trump doesn’t believe TPP will benefit America as a whole. Most in our agricultural sector view it differently.”

Ladd said he thinks trade agreements have become a form of political, policy and regional engagement.

“So trade agreements are ongoing issues woven into our world economy,” he said. “China works agreements on a regional basis with undesignated boundaries depending upon current political climates and monetary issues. Various players will be on that battlefield; but if we’re not one of the players, we potentially stand to lose.

“The Japanese legislature held off on joining TPP until they see what happens here. Once you are seen as an unreliable player, the playing field doesn’t disappear. The game is still going on. So the question becomes, do we want to be in the bleachers? Or do we want to be on the field to assure that we still have opportunities to export our goods?”

Ladd maintains it was a majority in the House and Senate who broke that apple cart long ago.

“What this election showed us is that a large part of the electorate voted their disgust,” he said. “You campaigned telling us what you were going to do. We gave you these majorities in both the House and the Senate, but you didn’t follow through. So our Congress, in my opinion, broke that axle; and in the process, broke faith with the electorate.”

Ladd is offended by the labels of “educated” voters and the disregard of the “uneducated” rural voters.

“My grandfather graduated from a class of seven in South Dakota. He was one of the smartest guys I’ve known,” he said. “I think our Washington, D.C., crowd seems to forget that we have an intelligent, educated and well-connected population in rural America that is also deep in common sense. These people are looking at their livelihood, their children, the next generation and what this may be costing them both financially and constitutionally.”

Farm economy

Concerns about the U.S. economy are huge. Net farm income is forecast to be down 11.5 percent from 2015. This 2016 figure could be the lowest since 2009. But there is unanimous agreement that federal regulatory policies relating to agriculture are moving in the wrong direction.

Ladd sees agriculture, food production and farm policy as a huge national security issue.

“You feed your people or they get cranky. We’re so fortunate in America with a combination of good people running our farms, great technology and a continual ambition to do better,” Ladd said. “Some say American agriculture is over-producing and the supply/demand equation is not working. But we also realize that much of our excess food production is not getting into those countries where it is most needed.

“Plus, consumer trends keep changing,” Ladd went on to say. “China and India are key examples. Thanks to better jobs, they have a new middle class that wants more diversity in their foods. That has become a huge market for U.S. agriculture. There is a continual evolution, not only in consumer demand, but also in science and technology. We’re constantly learning how to better feed the world.”

What change does he anticipate after President-elect Trump takes office on January 20?

“I usually give these presidential elections a four-to-six-month shakeout period,” commented Ladd. “There’s about 4,000 jobs just in the Washington environment that will be replaced, plus nationwide about 2 million government jobs potentially getting new faces. The Trump team will have their 100-day agenda which they’ll quickly get to the Hill.  Suffice to say that under President-elect Donald Trump, our Congress and nation will be experiencing change, perhaps even severe in some agencies.

“Perhaps equally intriguing is what comes out of the White House the next two months? Will there be a flurry of new executive orders?

“For our new president, he and his staff will be doing heavy-duty prioritizing to determine what to take on and what time frame for new actions. For a Congress with lots of new faces, staff is key as to what gets accomplished.”

The article can be accessed here:  http://www.thelandonline.com/news/lobbyist-warns-new-leaders-to-heed-ag-issues/article_472e2d84-b7fc-11e6-9f6c-f3d8e08c8076.html