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Tossed Out

The EPA has yet to release rules governing the amount of ethanol in the U.S. gasoline supply (File: Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media)
The EPA has yet to release rules governing the amount of ethanol in the U.S. gasoline supply (File: Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media)

A year ago, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed cutting the amount of ethanol that oil refiners have to mix in to our gas in 2014. 2014 is almost over. No final announcement has been made and there are only rumors about when a final decision may come.

Here’s what we’ve been trying to figure out at Harvest HQ: The final Renewable Fuel Standard, as the rules are called, was submitted to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Aug. 22. Typically, that’s the last step before a rule like this is finalized.

The OMB can review the proposal for up to 90 days before it’s released. If we’re counting right (and please, someone tell us if we’re not) that 90 days was up Nov. 20. The OMB director can extend the review 30 days. The EPA administrator can delay it indefinitely. Neither has made any indication that has happened. When I called, both the EPA and the OMB refused comment.

McDonald's buys 3.4 billion pounds of potatoes a year. (Chapendra/Flickr)
McDonald's buys 3.4 billion pounds of potatoes a year. (Chapendra/Flickr)

McDonald’s made a statement this week rejecting the Simplot genetically modified potato for its fries.

McDonald’s is currently the largest buyer of potatoes in the country, and Simplot is its main supplier. Simplot has engineered a potato, named the “Innate,” that can resist bruising and browning and stays fresh longer. It also contains less of the amino acid acrylamide.

“McDonald’s USA does not source GMO potatoes, nor do we have current plans to change our sourcing practices,” the company said in a statement.

(Don Graham/Flickr)
(Don Graham/Flickr)

After jumping up in value over the past few years, farmland in many of the Plains states has slowed down in its appreciation. 

A bumper crop, cheap prices for grain, and the lowest predicted farm income in five years have all taken a swipe at the value of farmland. Overall, states in the region, including Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Colorado, have farmland value hovering about 1 to 2 percent above its worth this time last year.

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