Infrastructure, the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection (NWP) Rule, year-round E15 sales and estate taxes were among the issues discussed during Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert Jr.’s recent trip to Washington, D.C.
Guebert attended the American Farm Bureau Federation Council of Presidents meeting, where agency staff and members of Congress provided updates to state Farm Bureau presidents.
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, chair of the Senate Ag Committee from Michigan, talked about the infrastructure package that includes funding for transportation, broadband and locks and dams, among other areas, Guebert said.
While the Senate may vote on the bipartisan agreement by the end of this month, the House has not taken up the bill yet. So, negotiations will likely carry into this fall.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan shared his plans to have 10 public hearings around the country later this year to hear feedback about the 2020 NWP Rule.
“It was interesting to hear that Administrator Regan wants to work with agriculture and provide an opportunity for conversation on what works and what doesn’t,” said Guebert. “Farm Bureau needs to have clarity and certainty on any rules that may be put forth.”
Regan also expressed his support for biofuels, Guebert said.
“He is a supporter and promoter of biofuels so that was good to hear,” he said. “He was disappointed in the court ruling that took out the year-round E15. So, I think there is some opportunity there for us going forward.”
While the meetings were going on, legislation was introduced in both chambers to allow for E15 and higher blend fuels to be sold at retailers year-round.
The House bill, called Year-Round Fuel Choice Act of 2021, is supported by Illinois Reps. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline; Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro; and Darin LaHood, R-Dunlap.
The Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act was reintroduced in the Senate and is cosponsored by Sens. Tammy Duckworth, D-Hoffman Estates; and Dick Durbin, D-Springfield.
Guebert said U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai shared her desire to reengage with trading partners around the world, keeping China accountable. Other issues discussed during the meetings include estate taxes and strengthening the food supply chain.
“Overall, it was a great time to be back in Washington, D.C., and meet face-to-face with my counterparts from all across the country and learn about the challenges that they face in their respective states,” said Guebert.