AgDay Daily Recap - December 29, 2011

December 29, 2011 07:14 AM

DECEMBER 29, 2011

As we get set to say good-bye to 2011, you can also say so-long to an ethanol tax credit. The Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit - VEETC - expires on December 31st. Congress did not extend the measure before its Christmas break. It's often dubbed a subsidy by ethanol critics. The majority of the VEETC credit went to oil companies which added ethanol to their gasoline. This credit did not go directly to corn farmers or ethanol plants. The Renewable Fuels Association - a pro-ethanol group - says VEETC was needed to get the industry off the ground. But he says the industry also understands the country needs to reign-in spending on the federal budget. Along with the expiration of VEETC, there's also the end of a u-s ethanol import tariff. And the Brazilian sugarcane industry couldn't be happier. The $0.54 per gallon tax also ends on Saturday. The Brazilian ethanol industry says ending the tariff will expand access for U.S. consumers to advanced renewable fuels like sugarcane ethanol.

Meanwhile, EPA released the levels of biofuels that must be used in 2012 to keep in compliance with the Renewable Fuels Standard, also known as RFS-2. RFS-2 is part of the 2007 energy bill which sets renewable fuel volume targets. It increases each year until reaching a mandated level of 36-billion gallons by the year 2022. Right now, it's about 14 billion gallons. In 2012, it adds about another one billion gallons of renewable fuels, which includes bio-diesel and cellulosic biofuels.

USDA has been touting bio-fuels as a way to "energize" jobs in rural America. This fall, the department of defense announced it had purchased 450,000 gallons of advanced biofuel to power military ships and planes. The commercial aviation industry is also using biofuels on a limited basis. Bob Ellison has details in this report from the Ag Department.

In our Beef Today Report; the improving efficiencies of beef production. A study conducted by researchers at Washington state university found that raising a pound of beef in the United States today uses significantly fewer natural resources than three decades ago. The research compared beef practices in 2007 to those in 1977. It shows to raise a pound of beef today takes 33% less land, 12% less water, 19% less feed and 9% less fuel energy. Waste outputs were similarly reduced, shrinking the carbon footprint by 16%. The results of the study were just published in the journal of animal science.

Herbicide resistant versions of water hemp are spreading northward in the state of Illinois. Now weed scientists in the Midwest are watching for the expansion of water hemp’s even nastier cousin - palmer amaranth. Palmer amaranth is already causing big problems in southern states. And it has its beady-eyes on the corn belt. Todd Gleason has details in this report from the U of I.

Jason Moss

When you're sick, sometimes the only thing you want is to cuddle-up with a warm blanket and a pillow. A pillow can bring you comfort like few other things. Well, a nine year old girl from Missouri understands the importance of a comfy pillow. She spends much of her free-time sewing pillowcases to help other children who are very sick. In this report from the University of Missouri, Kent Faddis shows us how this young lady doesn't let her age keep her from a very grown-up goal. Well done Avery! If you would like to donate to Avery Hooper's Pocketful of Sunshine project just go online to the MU Extension Website – Still to come, Food and Your Family.

In food and your family the countries egg producers have some reading material waiting.
The food and drug administration just published its final guidance for the agency's new egg safety rules. The guidance is to help prevent salmonella from contaminating shell eggs. The FDA came out with its egg safety rule back in 2009. It requires egg producers to have preventive measures in place on the farm during production, refrigeration, storage and transportation. FDA's guidance should help producers comply with the new egg safety rules. That rule is already in place for egg producers with 50,000 or more laying hens. Those with between 3,000 and 50,000 laying hens have until July 2012 to comply.

As egg producers prepare for another year, what are you planning in 2012? For many of us that will include resolutions to get fit in the days to come. And it appears America's restaurants are prepared. A new study from Technomic found restaurants are focusing on health now more than ever. The study shows the use of the word--healthy-- on American menus is up nearly 90% in the past year. The phrase --low calorie-- is up more than 150%. Researchers say American's are looking for healthier options and restaurants are touting the healthful qualities of their menus.

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