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GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS – WEEK OF MAY 5, 2017

Aurora Cooperative 5 years ago

FEDERAL ISSUES
The American Health Care Act passed in the House by the narrow margin of 217-213. All Nebraska Congressmen voted in favor and none of the Republicans on the House Ag Committee voted against it. The first step has been taken, for a new healthcare/health insurance program. The Senate must take action next and that could take a long time. During the floor debate and at the press conference following the vote, Iowa was specifically called out. “Just this week, we learned of another state, Iowa, where the last remaining health care plan is pulling out of 94 of 99 counties, leaving most of their citizens with no plans on the Obama market at all,” Ryan said. McCarthy also mentioned those 94 counties: “It’s not that they won’t have very many choices; they’ll have no choices.”

CRP has been capped. In a notice to its state and county offices – which was flagged by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition – FSA says there are currently 23.5 million acres enrolled in CRP. Since the program is capped at 24 million acres under the 2014 farm bill, no new acres can be accepted until the easement on 2.5 million acres expires in the fall. NSAC breaks down the situation here.

The EPA listening session on WOTUS primarily had comments from special interest groups who wish there was more regulation. There were some questions/comments from small cities/towns, or the ag sector asking for regulatory relief.

Brazil has delayed deciding whether to reinstate tariffs on U.S. ethanol imports. The postponement by Brazil’s Chamber of Foreign Trade will allow time for another agency to evaluate the proposal. In a joint statement, the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy and the U.S. Grains Council said the tariff proposal “is a critically important issue that will impact Brazilian consumers and commodity markets across the globe.”

EPA Director Pruitt and his department are looking at the ability to implement a waiver to make E15 available to consumers year-round.

STATE ISSUES
Floor debate has been lively this week! During the discussion of the state budget and Senator Kuehn’s amendment to leave all Brand Committee money with the Brand Committee rather than taking some for the general fund, Senator Chambers was able to incorporate discussion on the LGBT segment of the population, as well as both singing and poetry. In the end, the Brand Committee gets to keep their money.

Friday, May 5th, was the Governor’s annual signing of a proclamation declaring May as Beef Month. We celebrated, as we do every year, with a steak lunch BBQ in the back yard of the Governor’s Mansion.

Governor Ricketts did let us know that there are some influential Chinese people in the state right now for the Berkshire Hathaway meeting and he will do everything he can to keep pushing them to start taking beef as soon as possible. He also rattled off the following statistics: In 2003, China imported $15 million in beef, $10 M of which was from the U.S. In 2015, China imported $2.3 billion in beef, all of which was from Australia Uruguay, and New Zealand.

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