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Policy quick hits: Florida bans lab meat

Also: Corn growers decry new SAF rules and lawmakers call for reinstating NASS reports

Joshua Baethge, Policy editor

May 6, 2024

4 Min Read
U.S. capitol building with flag background
Getty Images/franckreporter

There’s never a shortage of agriculture news. Here are a few policy stories you may have missed over the past week.

Corn growers disappointed with SAF tax credit guidelines

The National Corn Growers Association said it is disappointed with recently released guidelines for Sustainable Aviation Fuel tax credits. While the organization welcomed the adoption of a new GREET model to measure greenhouse gas emissions, NCGA officials say they are disappointed with other provisions.

Per the new guidelines, SAF producers will have to also employ no-till practices, enhanced efficiency fertilizers and cover crops to qualify for SAF tax credits created by the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act. NCGA President Harold Wolle says those practices are not practical for all acres of the large and varied geographic region in which corn is grown.

“This requirement in GREET will significantly hinder the chances corn growers have in accessing the sustainable aviation fuel market, even as higher blends of corn ethanol offer great promise in the country’s fight against greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.”

Florida bans lab-grown meat

Florida became the first U.S. state to bane the name of lab-grown meat. Per terms of the new law, violators face 60 days in jail for producing or selling lab-grown meat. In a statement announcing he had signed the ban, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said his state was fighting back against “global elite’s plan” to force people to eat bugs or meat grown in a petri dish.

“Our administration will continue to focus on investing in our local farmers and ranchers, and we will save our beef,” DeSantis says.

While there is no known active push among elite (or non-elites) to make people eat bugs, some have suggested lab-grown meat could reduce the environmental impact of raising livestock. Last year, USDA approved limited cultivated meats sales for the first time. Still, the budding industry is nowhere close to competing with the cattle or poultry industries. Many experts doubt it ever will. Despite this, at least six other states are considering their own lab meat bans.

House Ag Committee members Bishop, D- Ga., and Don Davis, D-N.C., introduced a bill to provide legal aid for farmers struggling to resolve property ownership issues. The Heirs Education and Investment to Resolve Succession Act, or HEIRS Act, authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to work with nonprofits to provide pro-bono legal and accounting services.

Bishop notes that the 2018 Farm Bill authorized USDA to establish a re-lending program to those with limited resources access capital to help resolve title issues. Still, he says many heirs can’t access legal service or take on additional debt to clear their titles.

“When there is no clear title of landownership, it makes farmland vulnerable to predatory land speculators, which has cost families – and our country – millions of acres of lost farmland over the last century. It affects all agricultural producers but has hit Black farmers particularly hard,” Bishop says. “This bill will make sure that there are community resources available to families to help them navigate heirs’ property legal issues so that they can keep family land in agriculture from generation to generation.”

More calls for return of NASS reports

A contingent of more than 70 members of Congress is calling on USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service to reinstate several reports that were recently discontinued. On May 3, they sent a letter to leaders of the House to express their concerns.

NASS officials blame budget issues as the reason for the change. However, supporters of the reports say they provide producers valuable information that is critical to their operations. 

“For example, the July Cattle report offers producers and market analysts key insights into herd size, calf crop, and heifer retention, all of which are paramount to making sound business and marketing decisions,” the Congressional members say in their letter. “Losing access to this report in 2016 would have sparked uncertainty in the livestock markets, and the same result would occur today. This would be especially unwelcome given the current period of cyclical herd contraction within the cattle industry.”

Ag organizations pushing for the reports’ return include the National Grain and Feed Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Cotton Council, American Farm Bureau Federation, Livestock Marketing Association, Beef Alliance, and Livestock Marketing and Dealers Association.

About the Author(s)

Joshua Baethge

Policy editor, Farm Progress

Joshua Baethge covers a wide range of government issues affecting agriculture. Before joining Farm Progress, he spent 10 years as a news and feature reporter in Texas. During that time, he covered multiple state and local government entities, while also writing about real estate, nightlife, culture and whatever else was the news of the day.

Baethge earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of North Texas. In his free time, he enjoys going to concerts, discovering new restaurants, finding excuses to be outside and traveling as much as possible. He is based in the Dallas area where he lives with his wife and two kids.

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