Policy Journal - Early Spring 2019

March 22, 2019 09:42 AM
NASS Eliminates An Objective Yield Survey; Year-Round E15 Closer to Reality; The Trade War Takes A Heavy Toll

NASS Eliminates An Objective Yield Survey

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will no longer release its August Objective Yield Survey. It will continue to conduct the farmer-based survey in August as well as release the Objective Yield Survey results in September, October and November.

“NASS conducted their survey for the August reports the last week of July into the first week of August, and it was just too early for them to get real data in the field,” said Pro Farmer’s Brian Grete in an “AgriTalk” interview.

From a marketing perspective, eliminating the August Objective Yield Survey might not have a big impact, Grete said. The Pro Farmer Crop Tour, which pulls 1,400 corn and soybean samples, will now be the first to report yield estimates the third week of August.

Year-Round E15 Closer to Reality

Finally, the announcement the ethanol industry and farmers have been waiting for: President Donald Trump advanced a plan to lift the ban on E15 sales from June 1 to Sept. 15. The proposal also places trading restrictions on credits refiners use to prove they’re using biofuels.

“The proposed rule is great progress to getting the rule-making completed by the start of the summer driving season, June 1,” says National Corn Growers Association President Lynn Chrisp in a statement. “Allowing year-round sales of higher blends of ethanol not only grows a domestic market for farmers, but E15 gives consumers more choice at the pump, a lower price option and greater environmental benefits from a cleaner fuel. It’s time to remove the barrier to all of these benefits.”

Similarly, Geoff Cooper, the president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), says the announcement is one step closer to making good on Trump’s promise to allow E15 sales all year. However, Cooper says getting the rule finalized and implemented in time for the driving season is a tall order. RFA is urging EPA to separate the E15 provisions from the Renewable Identification Numbers (RIN) reform provisions to avoid a holdup.

In light of the progress for E15, there are concerns about the RIN language and its impact on farmers. Small refinery exemptions also need to be addressed.

The Trade War Takes A Heavy Toll

The trade battle between the U.S. and China continues to weigh on agriculture. New data from USDA puts it into perspective, showing some states saw exports decrease more than 80% to China in 2018.

The U.S. lost $10.4 billion worth of ag exports to China from 2017 to 2018, a 53% drop in one year, says Veronica Nigh, an economist with American Farm Bureau Federation.

Soybean exports to China eroded by $9 billion in 2018, she adds. Wheat, dairy products, and hides and skins saw total losses more than $100 million from 2017 to 2018.

For more analysis on the impact of the tense trade environment, visit bit.ly/missing-China.

Year-Over-Year Change in Exports to China


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