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Ears in Washington D.C. - September Update

As a Long, Hot, Productive Summer Comes to an End, Corn Growers Focus on Policy Priorities this Fall and Beyond

By Brooke S. Appleton

If there is anything unforgettable about Washington, it’s that the nation’s capital gets hot and humid during the summer months. Perhaps that’s why historically activity in the city has come to a screeching halt in August as members of Congress head home to meet with constituents.

Yet, this summer leaders in Washington continued to crank out results, some of which will impact corn growers. My team and I hope to build on some of this activity as we move into fall and the next Congress.

The summer was bookended by the president’s decision in April to direct the Environmental Protection Agency to use its authority to allow for continued, year-round market access for higher blends of ethanol and with the enactment in August of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

While the president’s decision on ethanol enjoyed bipartisan praise, passage of his signature piece of legislation was completed along party lines.

While we always like to see Congress act in a bipartisan manner, we were heartened to see our congressional allies on the Senate and House Agriculture Committees advocating for farmers by including millions of dollars for biofuels infrastructure and providing significant investments for agriculture in recognition of the solutions both farmers and biofuels offer for cutting emissions and addressing climate change.

There was also progress for farmers on the tariff front as the U.S. International Trade Commission voted in July against imposing tariffs on nitrogen fertilizers imported from Russia and Trinidad and Tobago. As of this writing, we are awaiting a decision by the U.S. Court of International Trade on whether an ITC decision on phosphorous fertilizers should be remanded to the commission for reconsideration or upheld. Our advocacy on this issue continues.

These developments provide a positive backdrop as we enter an uncertain fall. The lopsided economy – with high inflation and gas prices juxtaposed with strong workforce numbers – makes the outcome of the upcoming midterm election uncertain. The House appears likely to flip to Republican control, but polls are painting a different picture for the Senate.

With so much at stake legislatively in the coming months, farmers will need Republicans and Democrats elected or re-elected this fall to work collaboratively and champion initiatives important to agriculture. Our priorities are bipartisan, and farmers succeed in Washington when Republicans and Democrats work together.

One of our top legislative priorities this fall is securing additional support for the Next Generation Fuels Act, which would diversify our fuel supply and take greater advantage of low-cost, low-emission, and high-efficiency ethanol to give drivers affordable choices as we decarbonize and clean up our transportation sector. This bill also has implications for our energy security, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shows few signs of resolution and continues to impact energy and agriculture.

NCGA is also laying the groundwork to promote our policy priorities for the 2023 Farm Bill. Passed every five years, the Farm Bill affects everything that is governed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (If you haven’t already, be sure to listen to my interview with Washington veterans on lessons learned from previous Farm Bills.)

We continue to work to ensure that farmers have the tools they need to be effective. That’s why we will continue to call on the Biden administration to adopt a level of concern for atrazine that would not impair the effective use of this tool. We are undergoing a robust advocacy campaign on atrazine and are sounding the alarms about how burdensome regulations on inputs are in general. We urge all members to join us and contact EPA.

You can stay informed and join our efforts by texting GROW to 50457. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but with your help, we can move mountains for corn growers.

Here’s to an uncertain political season. Here’s to progress for growers. Here’s to fall!

 

Appleton is Vice President of Public Policy for the National Corn Growers Association. Ears in Washington, which is produced monthly, focuses on the federal policy issues important to corn growers.

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