July 28, 2015

Deadline to comment on Renewable Fuel Standards is today

Gov. Pete Ricketts speaks at a news conference on the RFS. Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds is to his right and Novozymes General Manager Kyle Nixon is to his left.

Gov. Pete Ricketts speaks at a news conference on the RFS. Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds is to his right and Novozymes General Manager Kyle Nixon is to his left.

Gov. Peter Ricketts wants you to complain to the EPA about the RFS.

The EPA, of course, is the Environmental Protection Agency.

The RFS is the Renewable Fuel Standard.

The EPA has proposed weakening the RFS, requiring the nation’s fuel supply have billions of gallons less of bio-fuels mixed in; a change which would greatly reduce the demand for ethanol.

Ricketts holds out hope that public pressure could convince the EPA to leave the RFS alone.

But, could public pressure actually change the proposal by the EPA.

“Well, certainly, the only chance that we have to be able to change their perspective is for people to reach out and let them know and just like anything else our federal officials want to hear from their constituents,” Ricketts tells Nebraska Radio Network.

Today is the deadline for public comment.

The easier and quickest way to comment is through the Internet. Go to regulations.gov to post a comment about the RFS.

Nebraska is second in ethanol production behind Iowa. Nebraska officials say a cutback in ethanol demand could greatly harm the state economy.

The governor’s office released an economic analysis by Fuels America released this year that claims the RFS is driving $184 billion in economic activity and more than 850,000 jobs with $46 billion in wages across America.

The local impact for Nebraska is estimated at $11.1 billion and nearly 40,000 jobs. Likewise, the impact for Iowa is projected at $19.3 billion and 73,000 jobs.

The United States produces 14 billion gallons of biofuels a year.

Nebraska officials claim the EPA is reneging on its commitment to follow Congressional action in 2007 that revised the RFS.

Officials warn EPA renewable fuels proposal could hurt Midwest (AUDIO)

Gov. Pete Ricketts speaks during a news conference at Novozymes in Blair

Gov. Pete Ricketts speaks during a news conference at Novozymes in Blair

State officials, agricultural leaders, and business executives warn that Nebraska’s economy could be harmed if the Environmental Protection Agency follows through with a proposal to lower the federal Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).

General Manager Kyle Nixon of Novozymes says the company plans to expand its facility in Blair if demand for ethanol remains strong.

“The ethanol industry has proven that it can deliver. The technology is there and it is consistently developing. The RFS works,” Nixon tells supporters during a news conference held at the plant in Blaire, “We are asking our employees, our Blair residents, and everyone in the state of Nebraska and Iowa to have their voice heard in support of the RFS.”

Gov. Ricketts speaks with Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds at Novozymes as Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson looks on

Gov. Ricketts speaks with Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds at Novozymes as Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson looks on

Gov. Pete Ricketts tells the crowd the EPA proposal would cut back on the standard and harm the state economy.

Ricketts says the current Renewable Fuel Standard creates jobs and helps the environment.

“And it’s important for us to be able to take care of the environment by using ethanol. It also allows us to be less reliant on foreign oil,” according to Ricketts. “So, you can see this is an industry that really creates win-wins, not only for Nebraska and Iowa, and creates great jobs here in the Midwest, but it’s important for the entire country.”

Ricketts urges residents to protest the change as the Monday deadline for taking public comments fast approaches.

“What now the EPA is considering doing is pulling the rug out from underneath our ethanol industry, the companies that depend on the ethanol industry, and our farmers here in Nebraska by slashing billions of gallons from that renewable fuels standard,” Ricketts says.

The governor’s office released an economic analysis by Fuels America released this year that claims the RFS is driving $184 billion in economic activity and more than 850,000 jobs with $46 billion in wages across America.

The local impact for Nebraska is estimated at $11.1 billion and nearly 40,000 jobs. Likewise, the impact for Iowa is projected at $19.3 billion and 73,000 jobs.

The United States produces 14 billion gallons of biofuels a year.

Nebraska officials claim the EPA is reneging on its commitment to follow Congressional action in 2007 that revised the RFS.

Novozymes is a leader in the biofuels industry. Enzymes from its Blair plant allow agricultural products like corn starch and corn stover to be converted into conventional and advanced biofuels. Nixon says a cut back in the RFS could alter plans to expand the plant in Blair.

Those are the news conference urged the public to oppose the change in the RFS before the Monday deadline expires.

Click here for a link to post comments on the RFS.

AUDIO:  News conference held at Novozymes on the Renewable Fuel Standard. [24 min.]

New Grasslands Initiative sign up starts Sept 1

Nebraska farmers and ranchers will soon be able to take advantage of a new Conservation Reserve Program initiative. Mike Schmidt is the deputy administrator for the U-S Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency and says they are targeting working grass, range and pasture land.

Schmidt says, “Grasslands is a new initiative. It is a working lands program instead of strictly a conservation program. You can continue to get agricultural benefit from the land along with conservation benefit by responsible grazing of the land.”

Schmidt says there are several priority categories with this initiative. He says there is a preference to expiring CRP or expiring grassland reserve program contracts. He says another option is if you want to get some agricultural use out of the land but still don’t want to convert it to row crops.

Sign up for the new Grasslands Initiative starts September 1st at local FSA offices. Schmidt says farmers then make an offer on their grasslands. Ranking periods of land will take place once a year with the first scheduled for November 20th. More details are available at your local FSA office.

UNL drought forecasters look ahead to hot & dry versus cold & wet

DroughtLong-range forecasters say the overall trend of cooler, wetter weather will likely continue for the next several months, with some periods of hot and dry mixed in, followed by what may be a mild winter ahead.

Brian Fuchs, a climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center, which is based at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, says the regional climate outlook, going out just eight-to-14 days, shows the rest of July and into August will be on the warm side.

“The eight-to-14 is showing temperatures being above normal during this time,” Fuchs says, “and when you couple that with the precipitation, it does look like after the next seven-day period, it is looking like the potential for drier-than-normal conditions from the Ohio River Valley into the Midwest.”

Fuchs says the trend from late summer into fall looks to be more of what we have seen most of the first half of the year.

“If you look at the probabilities of seeing above-normal precipitation, that starts out in the Southwest and continues into the Central Rockies out onto the Plains and catching part of the Midwest,” Fuchs says. “That’s also associated with temperatures being below normal.”

With a very strong El Nino weather pattern developing in the Pacific Ocean, Fuchs says the winter outlook is trending toward less snow and cold for most of the country’s northern half.

“We’re seeing those warmer-than-normal temperature probabilities staying in place from the Pacific Northwest through the Northern Plains,” he says, “and the below-normal temperature probabilities from the Southern Plains through the Southeast continue as well.”

Fuchs says the El Nino is now trending up and could be one of the strongest ever recorded.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton

 

Nebraska Cattlemen hit the road to hear from members (AUDIO)

Hereford_cattle_herdBeef producers get to hear from those representing them at the state Capitol and in Washington and get to air their opinions this week during the Nebraska Cattlemen’s educational road trip.

Topics will be wide-ranging during stops at six cities across Nebraska.

Nebraska Cattlemen Legislative Affairs Director Laura Field expects a lot of questions about why the legislature hasn’t eased property taxes for ranchers.

“We realized it’s going to take millions and millions and millions and hundreds of millions of dollars to come up with a long-term solution to some of the property tax problems, but the frustration really comes in the fact that we’re not even really seeming to take very many first steps,” Field tells Nebraska Radio Network during a cell phone interview on the way to the first meeting in Bridgeport.

One topic more important to some cattle producers than others will be discussed this week: branding regulations.

Members will also be advised on how to get active and shape Nebraska Cattlemen policy.

Time will be set aside for those attending the meeting to ask questions of the Nebraska Cattlemen staff.

The educational road trips began last year. They proved successful, according to Field, leading to this second year. The trips cover the same geographic area, but Field says the group has scheduled the meetings for different cities than those they visited a year ago.

Field expects worries about federal regulations to be a concern of beef producers, especially the controversial Waters of the United States proposal by the EPA.

“Always a concern with what’s going on there that could get passed down in regulations that could affect the state in a lot of different ways,” according to Field.

Meetings began in Bridgeport. They continue in Thedford, Lexington, Deshler, York, and West Point.

For a full schedule click here to be directed to the Nebraska Cattlemen web site.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:45]