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RSS By: Chip Flory, Pro Farmer

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Senate will pass its farm bill Monday

Jun 07, 2013

Pro Farmer Extra

- From the Editors of Pro Farmer newsletter -

June 7, 2013

Senate to pass farm bill Monday


The Senate Thursday evoked cloture on farm bill debate. That doesn't pass the bill, but it does limit upcoming debate and most importantly limits the number of amendments that will be considered. The reason that's so important is because as many as 240 amendments had been filed. Now it's up to Senate Ag Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) to determine which amendments will be considered before the full floor vote is taken.


Which amendments will be considered is not yet clear, but we do know which amendments won't be considered and Stabenow has decided that all EPA-related amendments to the 2013 farm bill are non-germane. That means there will be no amendments considered that may have altered the renewable fuels standard (RFS), including the ethanol-use mandate.


A vote on the final farm bill package is expected at 4:30 p.m. CT on June 10. The vote will follow an anticipated 30 minutes of floor debate. The bill is expected to easily pass.


Just because there won't be any EPA-related amendments to the Senate farm bill, that doesn't mean the RFS discussion is over. At a House hearing this week, it became abundantly clear that EPA and even lawmakers now understand the mandated corn-based ethanol use in the RFS will be nearly impossible to hit using E10 -- the country simply doesn't use enough fuel to reach the mandated levels at a 10% ethanol blend. Making the situation more dicey is the fact that RIN availability will be exceptionally tight by the time we get to 2014.


RFS supporters' answer to the blend wall problem is to use E15, but carmakers and retailers are incredibly stubborn on E15 even after EPA cleared the 15% ethanol blend for use in cars and light trucks manufactured after 2001.


RFS opposers' answer is to modify the mandated usage levels to continue with E10. EPA is expected to issue final 2013 ethanol-use mandates and preliminary 2014 mandates by late this summer.

Follow Pro Farmer Editor Chip Flory on Twitter: @ChipFlory

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