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Friday, June 17, 2016

ACTION ALERT: Submit Your Comment to EPA Today

The EPA is accepting written comments on its proposal for 2017 RFS volumes. EPA has proposed to lower the 2017 RFS requirement for conventional renewable fuels (like corn ethanol) to 14.8 billion gallons from the level of 15 billion gallons established by Congress in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. EPA is justifying this approach by again suggesting that the marketplace lacks the ability to consume 15 billion gallons due to impediments such as the so-called "blend wall." KyCorn is again asking for your help in commenting to the EPA and encouraging them to put the RFS back on track. Please follow the simple steps in the attached document to file your comment with EPA before July 11. Thanks for your support!

ACTION ALERT: Contact EPA on Atrazine

The Kentucky Corn Growers Association urges  farmers to submit comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, following publication of the Agency's draft Ecological Risk Assessment for atrazine, an herbicide used for weed control in growing corn and other crops. If it stands, EPA's recommendation would effectively ban the use of atrazine in most farming areas in the U.S.
 
"Atrazine is a safe and effect crop management tool. If EPA succeeds in taking away this option, it will be sending farming practices back decades - and hurt the environment in the process," said Maryland farmer Chip Bowling, President of NCGA. "As a farmer and a conservationist, I can't let this go unanswered. That's why I'm urging farmers to contact the EPA and make their voices heard."

"There are two important things to remember about this attack on atrazine by EPA. First, if bad science is allowed to impact one of the most studied products on the market (50 years of safe use) then all products are in jeopardy and second, atrazine is in almost 100 products at varying levels which means so-called alternatives may also be impacted.  This is a game changing proposal and comments are crucial," said Laura Knoth, KyCorn Executive Director.
 
Atrazine is widely used crop management tool proven to combat the spread of resistant weeds, while also reducing soil erosion and improving wildlife habitats. When farmers have access to atrazine, they do not have to do as much tilling, or turning up of the soil - a practice that erodes soil and leads to water and nutrient loss. Studies suggest farming without atrazine could cost corn farmers up to $59 per acre. Look here for a list of products containing Atrazine. 

As part of the assessment, EPA recommends reducing the aquatic life level of concern (LOC) from 10 parts per billion (ppb) on a 60-day average, to 3.4 ppb. Scientific evidence points to a safe aquatic life LOC at 25 ppb or greater.
 
Visit www.ncga.com/atz to submit your comments to the EPA. The deadline to submit comments is August 5. For more information on atrazine, visit agsense.org

Ford's "Fuel of the Future" Still Powering America Forward

(RFA) This month marks the 120th anniversary of an automotive milestone: Henry Ford's test drive of his first vehicle, the Quadricycle. The 20-mile-an-hour Quadricycle, which was literally built using two sets of bicycle wheels, would launch the career of an industrial pioneer and push the world into a new era for transportation. The 32-year-old engineer had single-handedly revolutionized the "horseless carriage" with his experiment that ran on an unenviably-small three gallons of ... ethanol. Ford was a staunch supporter of using fuel ethanol, which he called the "fuel of the future," in part because of its effect on engine performance. From the Model T to the Mustang, the performance of these machines' engines came down to the quality of fuel - or more specifically, octane.

Today, ethanol is the cleanest and cheapest source of octane on the planet. The benefits of ethanol have long been apparent to gasoline blenders and it's not hard to see why. To describe ethanol as the most multifaceted fuel source in America may seem like embellishment in a 2016 world where sensationalism has become the norm, but for a fuel that dates back to Ford's days, the liquid that chemists better describe as EtOH truly is amazing when you examine its versatility.

The ethanol industry has grown from a niche sector of the fuel market to become a ubiquitous component of the motor fuel market available at nearly every gas station in the country. With an octane rating of 113, ethanol provides more knock resistance per dollar than any other additive. Ethanol's benefits aren't just being felt here in the United States; international markets are also starting to recognize ethanol's ability to upgrade gasoline octane ratings, which in Europe, for example, are much higher due to their more stringent fuel economy standards. Ethanol increases octane in a much cleaner way than more harmful petroleum-derived octane such as toluene and benzene. Moreover, ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 34 percent compared to gasoline, and as a renewable source, ethanol is in the best position to meet the needs of high-octane engines without harming the environment.

If the founder of one of Detroit's Big Three can build his empire upon the earliest of early flex-fuel vehicles running on ethanol, it might be worth taking a second look at what we put in our own tank.

Friday, June 10, 2016

KyCorn Testifies at EPA Hearing

KyCorn joined farmers and biofuel advocates from across the country Thursday, June 9, at a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) field hearing on proposed 2017 renewable fuel volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). All in attendance urged the EPA to follow the law and make more ethanol available to consumers in next year's fuel supply.

Testifying on behalf of KyCorn was Megan Bell, board member and farmer from Mayfield, KY. Megan tells the EPA the negative impact their proposal will have on the environment as well as her family. 

"Your current decision will negatively impact our environmental and economic future and will negatively affect the future of my children. I don't have a hidden agenda, I have four children. I owe it to them to take a stand and ask that you reverse your decision and maintain obligations as Congress intended," said Megan. 

"Raising RVOs back to statutory levels will preserve, what I consider to be one of the most impactful environmental policies in our history, and enhance an industry that literally cleans the air bushel by bushel and gallon by gallon." 

Chip Bowling, a farmer from Newburg, Maryland, and president of the National Corn Growers Association, highlighted the investment in fuel infrastructure over the past year in partnership with USDA's Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership.
 
"NCGA and our state corn associations helped match [USDA] funds, making an overall investment totaling more than $200 million. These are real dollars going toward real investments to help provide consumers a more affordable and cleaner fuel option at the pump," said Bowling.
 
"The EPA and this Administration made a pledge to the American people to become energy independent by developing American-based energy sources such as corn ethanol. Farmers responded by growing enough corn for all of our needs. Businesses responded by investing in production infrastructure across rural America. As a result of these government promises and private efforts, the U.S. is able to sustain a prosperous renewable fuels industry. Now it's up to EPA to deliver on its promises."
  
Also testifying at the hearing were Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, Missouri Director of Agriculture Richard Fordyce, Crappie Masters TV co-host Brian Sowers, former Iowa State Rep. Annette Sweeney, and farmer-leaders from a dozen state corn grower associations. All told, more than 100 people testified in support of raising the volume of ethanol and other renewable fuels.
 
Supporters are urged to submit comments to the EPA at ncga.com/rfs. The deadline is July 11.

June 5 Planting Progress


Trade School Highlights Impact of Trade Policy to Agriculture

More than 50 farmers, ranchers and representatives of state agriculture associations were in Washington this week to broaden their knowledge about trade issues and drum up support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Capitol Hill as part of the National Corn Growers Association Trade School. Representing KyCorn was Executive Director, Laura Knoth. 

"It is vital that we take time to study trade, the U.S. economy as well as current and potential demand," said Knoth. "Our competitors have negotiated regional and bilateral agreements that is a disadvantage to Americans in the global market. The Trans-Pacific Partnership will allow us to protect and expand our market share."  

During the two days, trade school attendees learned from public and private sector experts about the importance of trade to the agriculture sector; the role of the World Trade Organization; global population and dietary trends and their implications for agriculture; the growing ethanol export market; and the current state of play for TPP and other international trade agreements.

With trade issues in the forefront right now, farmers were able to leave the week with knowledge and resources to be trade advocates in D.C. and in their own communities. Following trade school, many farmers and ranchers visited their congressional offices, urging Congress to take up TPP and pass the agreement this year.

Friday, June 3, 2016

And Finally We Have Some Good News...

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling regarding the ability to file legal challenges to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Clean Water Act jurisdictional determinations. 

In an 8-0 ruling, the Court unanimously agreed that jurisdictional determinations are, in fact, final agency action and determinations have direct legal consequences, therefore the determinations may be challenged in a court of law.  

Previously the EPA and the Army Corps had maintained that determinations did not represent "final agency action" and should not be subject to legal challenges.  The ruling is a win for private property rights, agriculture and benefits the legal fight over the Agencies' Waters of the U.S. rule.