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Ethanol plays major role in production and transport of Coronavirus vaccine

Published: Dec. 14, 2020 at 8:49 AM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - President-elect Biden is moving quickly to fill his cabinet after a busy week last week that included naming Tom Vilsack to once again take over as Agriculture Secretary. But Biden also made another appointment at the end of last week that will be important to agriculture. He has named Katherine Tai to be the next U.S. Trade Ambassador. Tai worked in the Trade Ambassador’s office during the Obama Administration and prosecuted several cases on Chinese trade practices before the World Trade organization. If confirmed, Tai, who is Asian-American would be the first woman of color to serve in the job. She is also fluent in the Mandarin language which would be helpful in dealing with China.

Ethanol will play a big part in the production and manufacture of new Coronavirus vaccines. Transport and storage of the vaccine depends on carbon dioxide, one of the by-products of ethanol production. To keep the ethanol industry alive and healthy in the state, Governor Tony Evers is making 3 and a quarter million dollars of federal Coronavirus aid, available to the 9 ethanol plants in the state to help keep them operating. The Covid-19 pandemic has hurt the industry by causing Americans to drive fewer miles, resulting in falling demand for ethanol in our gasoline supply.

The USDA made cattlemen unhappy this past Thursday when the agency announced a final rule putting in place the Packers and Stockyards Act’s prohibition against meatpacker buying conduct. The rule is intended to prevent meatpackers from using undue or unreasonable preferences or advantages when dealing with producers. But cattle industry leaders say the rule will do just the opposite and protect the concentrated meatpacking industry by providing those meatpackers with “safe harbors” to get around any producer allegations that a packer has violated the undue or unreasonable preference section of the Act. Trying to finalize the rule has been going on since the 2008 Farm Bill.

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