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Obama on trade, energy

In case you missed it, President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address touched on some issues important to agriculture, including energy and trade.

Here’s what Obama had to say about energy:

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Biofuels' near future

The next step the nation’s move toward energy independence
is still likely to come from corn and soybeans, a panel of industry experts
told the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association in Des Moines, Iowa, Tuesday.

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EPA grows E15

The EPA widened a crack in the so-called blend wall
Friday, announcing that it has approved the use of gasoline blends of 15%
ethanol for use in light passenger vehicles made for the 2001 model year or
later.  The decision is based on
testing by the Department of Energy that showed no ill effects on newer
engines.

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Vilsack announces grants and loan guarantees for biofuels

On Thursday Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced
grants and loan guarantees to all regions of the country to foster renewable
fuel development through programs authorized by the Energy Title of the 2008
Farm Bill.

Vilsack said that progams are meant to encourage biofuel
production from sources other than corn, which he said will benefit all areas
of the country and strengthen the rural economy.

Farm Bureau delegates keep options open on farm bill

Farm Bureau delegates voted to give their lobbyists the
flexibility to work for continuing nearly all of the existing commodity
programs at their annual policy debate in Atlanta, Georgia Tuesday, even though
funds may be more limited if Congress decides to cut federal spending this
year.

The group also voted in favor of shifting funds from the
current ethanol tax credit to building blender pumps and other infrastructure
to sell more ethanol.

Vilsack takes conciliatory tone to Farm Bureau

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack braved a rare Atlanta
snow and ice storm Monday to thank members of the American Farm Bureau
Federation for what they do as farmers and ranchers and pledged to continue
promoting U.S. ag exports and fiscally conservative farm policies.

Expo chairman cites growth in second year

Martin Richenhagen, CEO of ACGO and chairman of this
year’s Ag Connect Expo in Atlanta said Sunday that the machinery and technology
show’s second year drew more farmers.

Registration for the show this year was about 12,000,
including members of the American Farm Bureau Federation, which is holding its
annual meeting at the same location starting this weekend, he said. Last year’s
attendance at the first Expo in Orlando, Florida was 7,700, he said.

Farm Bureau president vows to fight EPA regulation

Speaking to the 92nd annual meeting of the American Farm
Bureau Federation in Atlanta, Georgia Sunday, the group’s president Bob
Stallman vowed to fight overregulation.

He announced that Farm Bureau is going to court to block
an EPA plan to limit fertilizer and livestock waste runoff into the Chesapeake
Bay. The lawsuite, Stallman said, “is essentially to preserve the power of the
states, not the EPA, to regulate farm production.”

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Plenty of soy oil for fuel

The biodiesel industry is slowly coming back to life
after a year without a $1-a-gallon tax credit, and there’s plenty of soybean
oil available when it does.

That’s part of the message that the United Soybean Board
and the National Biodiesel Board shared at the Ag Connect Expo in Atlanta,
Georgia, Saturday.

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Ethanol 'all about national security'

To farmers who pioneered the ethanol industry, the goal
was creating another market for corn. To retired General Wesley Clark, it’s
about patriotism and national security.

Clark, who is co-chairman of the ethanol lobbying group,
Growth Energy, told farmers why he supports the industry at a “Be Ready”
session sponsored by Case IH during the Ag Connect Expo in Atlanta, Georgia
Saturday.

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