Ag Policy Blog

RFS Changes and CRP Analysis Posted in Federal Register

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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While most of America was either shopping or watching football on Friday, EPA and USDA were posting a couple of key proposal changes in the Federal Register.

To the joy of America's strapped petroleum companies and environmentalists who love to drill, the Environmental Protection Agency opened its 60-day comment period on renewable fuel volume levels under the Renewable Fuel Standard for 2014.

The proposal would cut the corn-based RFS by roughly 1.4 billion gallons in 2014 to 13 billion gallons. Projected levels of advanced biofuels would be about 2.2 billion gallons. Cellulosic ethanol volume would be about 17 million gallons.

The EPA notice in the Federal Register provides details on how EPA came to its conclusions to lower the projected volume levels in various biofuels and the state of the ethanol industry. The comment period ends Jan. 28.

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EPA's proposed rule can be viewed at http://www.regulations.gov/…

USDA Analyzing CRP

On the Conservation Reserve Program --- the only environmental program in the USDA tool box according to Associated Press -- USDA announced intentions to complete a "Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement," or a SPEIS for all you federal acronym junkies.

According to the Federal Register posting, USDA is effectively moving ahead looking at possible changes to CRP in 2014 despite not having a new farm bill yet. The House and Senate versions of the farm bill both cut the current 32-million acreage cap for CRP. The House would set a 24-million acre cap while the Senate bill would go to 25 million. Thus, it's not too much of a stretch to begin analyzing some changes.

The Federal Register posting looks at the impact of gradually reducing CRP enrollment by 20% to 25% over the next five years. USDA also would be looking at changes in the enrollment cap on the Farmable Wetlands Program; reducing incentives and cost-share payments for tree thinning; evaluating other forms or processes for enrollment under continuous signup; adding flexibility for haying and grazing, including emergency haying and grazing on land that otherwise might be ineligible (such as land hayed or grazed in recent years). Lastly, the changes would look at transitioning acres coming out of CRP to other USDA conservation programs.

The comment period ends Jan. 13.

More information on the CRP posting can be found at http://www.regulations.gov/…

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