In The News

Feb 16, 2024

Breaking Down 5 Projections in the USDA 2024 Corn Outlook

Key Issues: Production

Author: Krista Swanson

USDA released the Grains and Oilseeds Outlook this week providing an initial look at the 2024/25 marketing year projections that include lower production, greater domestic use, increased exports, and higher ending stocks as compared to the current 2023/24 market years. The following is a summary and some additional context for five projections from the latest outlook.   Yield Corn yield is projected at 181 bushels per acre. Yield projections depend on the modeling approach and time series used. While a 3.7 bushel per acre increase over the 2023 record 177.3 bushels per acre may seem like a stretch, a regression on annual yields from 2023 to several different historical points including 1934, 1980, and 1996 all predict 2024 yields within about one bushel of the USDA projection.   Trendline yields are a reasonable expectation at this point. Adverse weather is generally thought to have a negative impact on yields but in 2023 a record yield was achieved in a year with widespread...

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Feb 9, 2024

Climate, Conflict, & Currency Impact Cost Competitiveness for U.S. Corn Exports

Key Issues: Trade

Author: Krista Swanson

A combination of climate, conflict, and currency values are factors in cost competitiveness that impacts transits and overall U.S. corn exports.   Climate Climate conditions brought widespread drought to the United States Corn Belt in 2023. Dry conditions in the Mississippi River basin led to record low water levels. As a result, barge weight and traffic restrictions were imposed, and the 7.7 million tons of corn moved by barge on the Mississippi River in 2023 was 30% lower than 2022 and 54% lower than 2021. Ultimately, the cost of added time and weight restrictions were factors contributing to a higher corn price at port but also meant pace of getting grain to the port was slowed.   Climate-induced waterway challenges for U.S. corn don’t end at the Gulf. Extreme drought has forced substantial scaleback of shipping through the Panama Canal, a key global maritime channel. The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has reduced traffic to 24 ships a day, about two-thirds of the normal...

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Dec 1, 2023

Drought & River Transport Impact on Corn Competitiveness

Key Issues: TradeTransportation and Infrastructure

Author: Krista Swanson

For the second year in a row, drought conditions are impacting transportation on the Mississippi River at the peak shipment point of the year. Shallower river levels mean barge weight restrictions, slower barge traffic, and higher costs to ship commodities on the river. Ultimately, this translates to a relatively lower price at the farmgate and higher cost for the world buyer.   Drought Slows Grain Barge Traffic in 2022 and 2023 The Mississippi River is an important channel for commodity transportation. The USDA reports the final mode of transport was barge for 13% of U.S. grains in 2020, and 46% of exported U.S. grains[i]. There are normally two peaks in grain barge movements, one in late summer leading up to the end of the marketing year for corn and soybeans, and the other emerging in the fall harvest season and into the post-harvest months.   The impact of low water levels on grain barge movements was notable in 2023, marking the second consecutive year of drought...

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Sep 8, 2021

Biofuel and Ag Leaders Oppose EPA Motion to Remand 2018 SREs without Vacatur

Key Issues: Ethanol

Author: Ken Colombini

Last night, the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, National Corn Growers Association, National Biodiesel Board, American Coalition for Ethanol, and National Farmers Union opposed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) motion to remand but not vacate the 31 small refinery exemptions (SREs) the Trump Administration granted in August 2019. The coalition of biofuel and ag leaders is currently challenging the 31 SREs in the D.C. Circuit, arguing that EPA’s issuance of the exemptions was arbitrary and capricious and exceeded the Agency’s authority under the Clean Air Act.   Together, these leaders provided the following statement in opposition to this motion:   “While it is encouraging that EPA intends to reconsider the 31 SREs granted for the 2018 compliance year, we must oppose EPA’s motion to remand without a deadline and without addressing the SREs’ ongoing damage to the biofuel industry. In addition to seeking a remand of the SREs, the Biden...

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Apr 13, 2021

RFA, Growth Energy and NCGA Defend Year-Round E15 in Court

Key Issues: EthanolFarm Policy

Author: Ken Colombini

Today, the D.C. Circuit Court will hear oral arguments in American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, et al. vs. EPA, a case in which oil refiners challenge the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2019 rulemaking that paved the way for the year-round sale of E15. As intervenors in the case, the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy and the National Corn Growers Association will also argue in support of upholding the E15 rule in court today.   In a joint statement, RFA, Growth Energy and NCGA said, "Oil refiners are simply trying to reclaim more market share by blocking American drivers from year-round access to a more affordable, lower-carbon fuel at the pump. Studies have repeatedly shown that the volatility of E15 is lower than that of E10. And other recent studies find that a nationwide switch from E10 to E15 would significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions –equivalent to removing approximately 3.85 million vehicles from the road. If the refiners had their way and...

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Mar 31, 2021

Biofuels Coalition Welcomes Amicus Briefs in Supreme Court RFS Case

Key Issues: Ethanol

Author: Ken Colombini

The Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, and American Coalition for Ethanol (collectively referred to as the “Biofuels Coalition”) thanked the states of Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, South Dakota, and Virginia for filing an amicus curiae brief in the Supreme Court today in support of the Coalition’s arguments in HollyFrontier Cheyenne Refining, LLC, et al., v. Renewable Fuels Association, et al. The Coalition also expressed its appreciation to the other biofuel and agriculture groups that filed amicus briefings in support of the biofuels industry.   HollyFrontier and other refiners are asking the Supreme Court to overturn the January 2020 ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) v. EPA, in which the court found EPA exceeded its authority in granting certain small refinery waivers. Recognizing that “the renewable fuel and agriculture industries are the...

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Feb 22, 2021

Farm, Biofuel Leaders Embrace EPA’s New Position on Tenth Circuit’s Small Refinery Waiver Decision

Key Issues: Ethanol

Author: Ken Colombini

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it is supporting the Tenth Circuit Court’s January 2020 decision in Renewable Fuels Association et al. v. EPA. After careful review of the decision, EPA’s new leadership agrees with both the court and the biofuel litigants that small refinery exemptions were meant to be temporary and that only pre-existing exemptions may be “extended” by the agency.    EPA states that it “agrees with the court that the exemption was intended to operate as a temporary measure and, consistent with that Congressional purpose, the plain meaning of the word ‘extension’ refers to continuing the status of an exemption that is already in existence.”     The four petitioners in the case—the Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, American Coalition for Ethanol and National Farmers Union—released the following statement:   “Our nation’s biofuel producers and farmers appreciate EPA’s careful review of the Tenth...

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Dec 8, 2020

Biofuels Coalition Files Brief Challenging 31 Small Refinery Exemptions in 2018

Key Issues: Ethanol

Author: Ken Colombini

The Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, National Corn Growers Association, National Biodiesel Board, American Coalition for Ethanol, and National Farmers Union today filed a brief challenging EPA’s August 2019 decision to exempt 31 small refineries from their obligations to comply with the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2018. Collectively known as the Biofuels Coalition for this case, the group submitted its filing to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that EPA lacked the authority to issue such exemptions and that it acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner in attempting to do so.   In its brief, the Coalition asserts some of the same arguments that the Renewable Fuels Association, NCGA, NFU, and ACE successfully made in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals against three small refinery exemptions, including the fact that EPA lacked the authority to extend small refinery exemptions that had lapsed in earlier years. The Coalition also took on EPA’s failure to...

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For media inquiries contact Bryan Goodman, goodman@ncga.com