August is the slowest of months in Washington, DC. Even the months with Christmas, Thanksgiving, July 4, Memorial Day and New Year’s generate more news. However, there a few issues of which you should be aware, as follow:
Immigration reform – or at least the politics of immigration reform – will get a shot in the arm shortly after Labor Day when President Obama is expected to announce so-called “executive actions” to deal with the challenges of “undocumented workers” in the U.S. While delaying deportations and loosening up green card rules are expected, there may also be actions directly related to the undocumented minors currently housed in Texas or moved to various facilities around the U.S. Various industry groups met with the White House over the summer to recommend actions, which does not make some in the Senate happy. Sen. Jeff Session (R, AL), a staunch foe of immigration amnesty, condemned the White House meetings, saying industries are ““scheming with the White House to extract by executive fiat what was denied to them by the American people and Congress.” For its part ag has stopped short of endorsing or encouraging White House executive action fearing exactly the reaction of Sessions, but the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) cautioned the White House about taking enforcement actions that could “destabilize” the ag labor force.
Industries eagerly awaiting or dreading EPA’s final rule on how much of various biofuels must be blended with gasoline each year saw the agency ship its much-delayed draft final rule on 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to the Office of Management & Budget (OMB) late last week. Back in November, EPA stunned the corn ,ethanol and biodiesel industries by proposing RFS levels well below the level mandated by Congress. Since then, all the lobbying stops have been pulled out by the corn ethanol, biodiesel/renewable diesel, petroleum and animal ag groups, the biofuels folks begging for an increase in the final RFS, and the others demanding the RFS be set lower, as originally proposed. OMB has in the past reviewed and cleared for publication such RFS rules in just over a month, but there’s strong opinion President Obama could hold the final rule until after the November election so as not to make it an issue in Democrat races across the country.
Nestle SA, the “mother ship” of global Nestle – the world’s largest food company and the largest purchaser of dairy in the U.S. – last week announced it’s tightening its animal welfare requirements of suppliers, and signed a formal agreement with World Animal Protection (WAP), known in its previous life as the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), to set the new requirements. The various press releases, postings (www.nestle.com) and cheers from the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS), Mercy for Animals (MFA), et al, make no mention of consultation with any group or sector other than WAP. There are no details provided on timing, specific requirements, etc. While the focus is on suppliers, which translates to processors, brokers, etc., the requirements will transfer back to the farm, and part of the new program will be supplier audits. Watch this space.
So that’s all the news that’s fit to print right now. However, the boys and girls of Congress return the middle of next week, and while the Middle East and Ferguson, Missouri, have all the attention right now – along with the California earthquake – the political machines will start cranking for the two weeks or so Congress will be in session prior to recessing through the November midterm election. I can hardly wait.