Legislative Update—Governor Abbott recently announced that he had vetoed 50 pieces of legislation that passed the Senate and the House. He also cut $120 million from the budget through line item vetoes. Among the programs nixed in the budget was $2.5 million for the Texas Soil and Water Conservation Board to conduct water supply enhancement. According to a TSWCB spokesperson, there may still be enough money to move around to cover this, but it is still a significant loss. Among the 50 bills that Governor Abbott vetoed, there were some that affected agriculture. Most prominently, HB 572 was vetoed after receiving broad support across the agriculture industry. HB 572 was the bill that used pesticide registration fees to fund a pesticide container disposal program in conjunction with Texas A&M AgriLife. I have yet to receive a clear answer as to why the bill was vetoed, although concerns about the source of funding seem to be swirling around. You can read a list of the other 49 bills the Governor vetoed here.
EPA will rescind 2015 Waters of the United States (“WOTUS”) rule—On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced it would be taking the first step to rescind the definition of WOTUS as published in the Federal Register in 2015 and to re-codify the definition of WOTUS “which currently governs administration of the Clean Water Act.” Essentially, it appears that the EPA intends to codify the approach taken prior to the WOTUS rule being passed. Of course, as many remember, there was a great deal of uncertainty prior to the 2015 WOTUS Rule, leading to significant litigation. The EPA has released its “pre-publication version” of the proposed rule defining Waters of the United Sates, which will be published in the Federal Register soon. [Read pre-publication version here.] After publication, there will be a 30 day notice period for interested parties to submit comments about the new proposed rule. [Read article here.] I’ll have a more detailed analysis of the new version of the rule upon its publication in the Federal Register. This story first appeared in Texas Agriculture Law
China Trade Team Stops in Texas—A team of 12 Chinese grain buyers visited the Sorghum Belt last week to further develop and strengthen the relationships between Chinese sorghum buyers and U.S. suppliers. The team is composed of top leading sorghum professionals whose imports account for more than 50 percent of China’s total sorghum imports from the U.S. The team made stops in south Texas where they were able to tour elevators and meet with sorghum producers. During their week-long stay in the U.S. the team also visited ethanol plants, feed mills and attended training seminars at universities. These visits will result in a better understanding of crop conditions and quality, sorghum use in the U.S. feed industry and enable them to gain a better understanding of grain sorghum as a valuable feed ingredient.
Market Perspectives–Sorghum: Net sales of 2,000 MT for 2016/2017 were reported for China. Exports of 74,800 MT were up 17 percent from the previous week and 9 percent from the prior 4-week average. The destinations were China (62,000 MT), Japan (8,800 MT), and Mexico (4,000 MT).