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E Energy in Adams, Neb., takes in corn from local farms to make 65 million gallons of ethanol each year. (File: Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media)
E Energy in Adams, Neb., takes in corn from local farms to make 65 million gallons of ethanol each year. (File: Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media)

The U.S. EPA is proposing tweaks to ethanol policy.

The agency proposed a cut to the amount of corn ethanol oil companies are required to blend in to our gasoline, as well as ambitious targets for low-carbon cellulosic ethanol, which is produced from grasses and other inedible parts of plants.

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), as the ethanol rules are called, mandates oil companies use certain levels of biofuels. It is meant to encourage growth in the industry and to cut greenhouse emissions from gasoline. The EPA, however, hasn’t finalized annual production targets since 2013, leaving the ethanol industry in the lurch.

(Bob Peterson/Flickr)
(Bob Peterson/Flickr)

Farmers could be temporarily prohibited from applying pesticides at certain times of the year if proposed new environmental regulations are adopted.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday proposed limiting the application of what it calls “acutely toxic pesticides” during times when flowers are in bloom and in areas where farmers have paid for bees to help pollinate their crops. Commercial beekeeping hives account for about 90 percent of the nation’s bees, according to an expert cited by the Associated Press.

The restrictions would pertain to products applied directly to crop leaves with active ingredients determined to have “high toxicity for bees,” the EPA said.

(Mike Mozart/Flickr)
(Mike Mozart/Flickr)

Walmart, one of the country’s largest food retailers, is asking its suppliers to use less antibiotics in farm animals and to treat animals “humanely throughout their lives.”

While not mandatory, the guidelines for suppliers ask producers to change their practices. When Walmart makes requests, many in the food industry listen.

The company is asking its meat producers and egg suppliers to treat animals with antibiotics only to prevent and treat disease and not to promote growth, Walmart said in a release. It is also asking suppliers to publicly report their antibiotic use annually.

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