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Peterson: Senate aid bill likely to include HEROES Act ag provisions

-The Hagstrom Report

The next Senate coronavirus aid package is likely to include the agriculture provisions that the House included in the HEROES Act, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said Wednesday during a Bipartisan Biofuels Caucus virtual town hall meeting.

Peterson said he and other biofuels leaders are frustrated that the situation surrounding biofuels is not “straightened out.” Members of the caucus and industry leaders expressed concern over several issues, particularly the Trump administration’s lack of clarity about whether it will implement a court decision that said the Environmental Protection Agency’s decisions to grant small refinery waiver relief from the Renewable Fuel Standard was not properly undertaken.

The Senate bill is likely to include the aid to ethanol producers that was in the HEROES Act as well as aid to commodity producers and meat producers, Peterson said. He added that he has spoken with Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and that Roberts is supportive of most of the provisions. Senators want some tweaks, Peterson said, adding that he supports most of them.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said this week he expects Senate negotiations on the bill to start after the July 4 recess and the bill to pass on Aug. 6, the day the Senate leaves Washington until after Labor Day.

In a call to reporters after the virtual town hall, Peterson said he has already started working on plans for a bill to prepare the Agriculture Department to have a “plan on the shelf” to address future crises such as outbreaks of African swine fever and hoof and mouth disease. The funding would flow through the Commodity Credit Corporation, he said.

Peterson said he wants to undertake that work in conjunction with Agriculture Department officials, but they have said they will not come to a hearing unless he and House Agriculture Committee ranking member Michael Conaway, R-Texas, are present. That presents a difficulty, Peterson said, because it is so hard to schedule a room that is large enough for the members of the House Agriculture Committee and witnesses. Most likely, Peterson said, the committee’s hearings will have to be conducted with some members in the room and others attending remotely.

During the town hall meeting, Reps. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, and Rodney Davis, R-Ill., also spoke, and representatives of the biofuels industry thanked the members for their efforts.


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