Agribusiness Report: Spending bill extends biodiesel tax credit

Published: Dec. 26, 2019 at 7:58 AM CST
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There was a lot that happened in the last week as the House and Senate went home for the holidays.

On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a spending package that extends the biodiesel tax credit and offers additional disaster aid to farmers.

Iowa Representatives Cindy Axne and Abby Finkenauer submitted an amendment to revive the tax credits since its expiration in 2017.

The American Soybean Association said this will expand markets for soybean growers.

The tax credit expansion is part of a tax package amendment included in a funding bill for the Department of Agriculture.

If President Donald Trump signs it, the credit would be extended at $1 per gallon for five years.

The National Biodiesel board said the credit will support expansion and production as well as provide certainty to support growth and investment.

Lawmakers are also adding an additional $1.5 billion in disaster aid in the spending bill aimed at helping farmers recover from damages in 2019.

Also, the spending package for agriculture includes $23.5 billion in discretionary dollars.

On Thursday, the House also passed the U.S. Mexico Canada agreement, sending it to the Senate.

In a vote of 385 to 41, the bill passed to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement with a modernized version.

But with impeachment moving forward, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said there will not be a vote on the trade deal until after impeachment.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley said he supports the delay on a USMCA vote, saying Senate impeachment rules require unanimous consent to move forward on a non-impeachment vote. He does not think there is unanimous consent for the trade deal.

Grassley adds the impeachment process could take two to five weeks.

But Iowa Representative Cindy Axne called on the Senate to pass USMCA before they leave for the holidays.

In a letter to McConnell, Axne and six other House members demanded he bring the deal up as soon as the House passed it.

Agriculture and biofuel groups faced a setback this week with the EPA deciding to enact its own proposal of the Renewable Fuel Standard.

The Environmental Protection Agency finalized Renewable Fuel Standard obligations for 2020, keeping it as proposed.

The EPA claims it fulfills its promise of 15 billion gallons by taking into account waived gallons from small refinery exemptions rolling them back into the program.

However, biofuel groups and agriculture groups disagree.

The final rule uses a three-year rolling average of recommended Department of Energy waivers, not actual estimations or hard numbers.