The Environmental Protection Agency has approved the first “misfueling mitigation plans”, the final step for retailers to begin offering E15 across the country. “Attention will now turn to addressing state regulatory issues, identifying retailers wishing to offer E15, and paving the way to greater use of domestically produced ethanol," said an elated RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen.

“Green light for E15 will benefit U.S. motorists”, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack says. The ethanol boom was becoming a fading echo with national usage now up against the “blend wall” while confined to 10 percent blends (E10) and retailers reluctant to tie up separate tanks and pumps with little-used E85. In welcoming the EPA move he said “It will further reduce the country's reliance on foreign oil. The public has a right to choose between imported oil and homegrown energy.”

A House panel began work last week to mark up the fiscal 2013 appropriations bill for USDA, the Food and Drug Administration, Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and related agencies. One of the larger disagreements expected: Funding for CFTC to take on the new financial oversight duties mandated by the Dodd- Frank financial regulatory reform law.

The draft of the House bill would reduce CFTC's budget to $180 million, or $25 million below this year's level of $205 million.

The National Milk Producers Federation has a dairy supply management plan designed to reduce the amount of milk eligible for price support whenever an oversupply threatens. However, a dairy user’s group, the International Dairy Food Association (IDFA), wants Congress to make U.S. dairy products competitive on world markets, something that the organization says that will be made more difficult under a supply management regime like the one proposed by NMPF.

The problem before Congress on dairy is how to have a program that closely balances domestic supply and demand (and thus supports milk at higher-than-world-market prices) while also providing an adequate supply of milk for processors and food manufacturers who can export their products at prices that are competitive on world markets.

Bi-partisan effort targets out-of-control food stamp costs. Formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), food stamps now cost taxpayers more than $80 billion annually, making it the second-largest federal welfare program (behind Medicaid) and by far the largest chunk of spending in the farm bill. Most of the reductions, backed by members of both parties, would accrue by “reining in abuse and misuse of SNAP” say insiders familiar with the proposals.