Trade Woes and SRE Waivers Sour Ag Mood

Aug 16, 2019  | 4 min  | Ep4452

The U.S.-China trade war is fighting for the top spot on the things putting pressure on American farmers and ranchers. Joining it is the release of the small refinery exemptions list.  Reuters is reporting the latest round of S-R-E’s was triggered by President Trump. Peter Tubbs has the details. Producer contact:

Pressure from multiple directions pushed the agricultural outlook downward this week.

Less than a week after threatening to increase tariffs on more Chinese products, President Donald Trump reversed course and delayed a portion of these new duties on products popular with consumers. Those new duties will kick-in after the Christmas holiday season is over. The 10 percent tariff on an additional $300 billion worth of goods would raise the prices for both U.S. importers and U.S. consumers.

President Donald Trump: “We're doing this for Christmas season, just in case some of the tariffs would have an impact on US customers but so far they've had virtually none. The only impact has been that we've collected almost 60 billion dollars from China, compliments of China. But just in case they might have an impact on people, what we've done is we've delayed it so that they won't be relevant for the Christmas shopping season."

United States Ambassador to China Terry Branstad reports that negotiations with China have been stalled since April.

Ambassador to China Terry Branstad: “In April, we thought we were pretty close to a resolution to the trade dispute, and then the Chinese reneged on a bunch of commitments they had made. And after the meeting, President Trump and President Xi in Osaka, Japan were back to the bargaining table. Unfortunately there are a number of key issues. So we want fairness and reciprocity, It’s critically important that we have something that’s enforceable.”

The Trump Administration announced this week that the Environmental Protection Agency has approved 31 small refinery exemptions, or SREs, for production year 2018. The new set of SRE’s exempt 13.4 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel from being blended with biofuels. The total represents more than 7 percent of the volume set by the EPA in 2018 to comply with the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Farm groups and politicians from ethanol producing states had pressed the EPA and the Trump Administration to refrain from issuing SREs and follow the terms set by the RFS.

RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “At a time when ethanol plants in the Heartland are being mothballed and jobs are being lost, it is unfathomable and utterly reprehensible that the Trump Administration would dole out more unwarranted waivers to prosperous petroleum refiners.”

Senator Charles Grassley, Iowa: “They screwed us when we didn’t, when they issued 31 waivers. Compared to less than 10 waivers during all of the Obama years. And we thought that was bad. What’s really bad isn’t a waiver, it’s that it is being granted to people who really aren’t hardship, and that’s where it ought to be identified.”

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig believes the deluge of drama surrounding agriculture has the farm community fatigued.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig: “They are optimistic, but, there is absolutely a frustration. I think folks are tired. I think folks are tired of just the continued seemingly bad news. It’s a lot of things that come together. I remain hopeful that we will get to a better place with trade, and that we will have some success restoring the intent of Congress to the Renewable Fuel Standard and that’s what we will keep working on.”

For Market to Market, I’m Peter Tubbs


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