By Brooke S. Appleton
Fall is quickly arriving in the nation’s capital and with it comes the sense that Congress has much to accomplish in a very short period with potential roadblocks along the way.
Perhaps the most serious potential impediment is a looming government shutdown as Congress approaches the September 30 deadline to fund the federal government.
Over the last decade, we’ve gotten all too familiar with the ramifications far and wide that a government shutdown brings. Almost the entire federal government, including the legislative branch, comes to a complete stop. There will be politicians on both sides of the aisle trying to deflect blame, and there will be voters across the country trying to assign blame.
In the event of a government shutdown, staff who might be deemed “essential” and able to continue to do their jobs are technically prohibited from working on any legislation unrelated to funding the government. It goes without saying that such a scenario could hamper progress on key agricultural initiatives, including reauthorization of the farm bill.
Despite these challenges, NCGA continues to exercise laser focus on ensuring lawmakers understand our policy priorities during the farm bill debates.
Throughout the month of September, videos of growers speaking on NCGA’s farm bill priorities will continue making their way into the social media feeds and pre-roll ads of key members of Congress, staffers and other influencers in Washington. This video series is yet another way we have found to bring the voice of the farmer directly into the legislative process. This effort comes on the heels of a call-to-action that has already led to thousands of corn farmers contacting their members of Congress.
While continued outreach to the House and Senate remain top of mind, the halls of Congress are not the only place bustling with activity that is important to our members. Across town at the Department of Treasury, a big decision is expected soon on whether the Biden administration will use the Department of Energy’s greenhouse gas model known as GREET or a less comprehensive international model as it decides on which biofuels will receive tax credits under the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act.
While the issue sounds esoteric, its ramifications for corn growers and the president’s climate agenda are far-reaching. The IRA allows for the allocation of tax incentives for biofuels that cut GHGs by 50% or more. Farmers have been pushing for Treasury to follow GREET as it assesses GHG reductions, as the model most accurately accounts for on-farm carbon reduction activities, feedstock yield increases and the improved agricultural production practices that farmers have adopted over the last 20 years.
We have worked closely with officials in Congress and the administration on this matter, and we have been communicating our thoughts directly to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. We are also closely coordinating with officials from the airline industry and other groups to elevate corn ethanol as the go-to biofuel in the air travel sector. Stay tuned.
Moving to yet another government agency, we are continuing to work with the team at the office of the U.S. Trade Representative as it prepares to empanel experts in its dispute settlement with Mexico over the country’s decree banning the use of biotech corn for human consumption. NCGA has lobbied for the last year to get to this point and is pushing for a resolution of the issue.
As your lobbyists, please rest assured that we are on top of all these issues. We are showing up and making a case on your behalf before Washington decision-makers. We invite you to follow our efforts and join our advocacy outreach by texting COB to 52886. There is strength in numbers and your voice matters.
Here’s to a productive autumn and a bountiful harvest. Happy fall, y’all!
Appleton is vice president of public policy at the National Corn Growers Association.