Regulatory freezes implemented by Trump could be harmful to the nation's farm belt

Jan 30, 2017

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Some regulatory freezes instituted by President Donald Trump could be damaging to the country’s farm belt, according to some agricultural groups.

As Reuters reports, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will delay implementation of this year’s biofuels requirements along with 29 other regulations finalized in the last weeks of Barack Obama’s presidency, according to a government notice, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will delay rules affecting livestock.

While such delays are not uncommon with a new administration, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) faces uncertainty under the Trump Administration, which includes a proposed EPA director who has criticized the program.

The aim of the RFS is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on imported fuel by requiring that oil companies blend increasing amounts of biofuels like corn-based ethanol into gasoline and diesel.

Some in the oil industry, which has lobbied heavily for changes or a repeal of the policy, were glad to hear the news.

“While the regulatory freeze implemented by President Trump does not change the statutory compliance of the RFS, it does provide an opportunity to take a closer look at this fundamentally flawed policy,” said Chet Thompson, president of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, which represents companies including oil refiners.

According to a federal register notice, the RFS rules will be implemented on March 21.

About one-third of the 13.6 billion bushels of corn produced in the U.S. in 2015 was used to make fuel ethanol, according to the National Corn Growers Association.

The U.S.D.A. has also delayed rules aimed at protecting meat producers from packing companies and processors, said Dave Warner, a spokesman for the National Pork Producer Council, which opposes the measures because he doesn’t believe they are necessary.

But the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association called the delay in implementing the rules worrisome because it sees the measures as being needed for preventing anti-competitive buying practices.

“We are certainly on edge right now and hope that with further review the Trump administration will see the value in those rules,” said Lia Bionda, the association’s policy and outreach coordinator.

The freeze is also affecting new rules mandating specific space requirements for hens laying organic eggs, Warner said.