To The REVIEW:
Like many others in Iowa agriculture, I supported President Donald Trump in 2016. We believed in “Make America Great Again.” We also believed, as President Trump promised, that cheer included farmers and the broader agricultural sector.
We also saw an opportunity for American farmers to answer national and global calls for cleaner air and lower greenhouse gas emissions. Homegrown biofuels have a clear and increasingly important role to play in the world’s clean energy landscape. What we did not anticipate was economic crisis sparked by new trade disputes and an Environmental Protection Agency that consistently favors big oil over American-made renewable fuels.
The Renewable Fuel Standard ensures a market for 15 billion gallons of conventional biofuels, along with additional opportunities for biodiesel and cellulosic biofuels. Unfortunately, some of the world’s largest oil refiners have managed to skirt the law by pressuring the EPA to grant dozens of secretive exemptions.
In response to the outcry from rural communities like ours, on Oct. 4 the White House, EPA and U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a promise to end the era of demand destruction. The president personally pledged to hold firm on the 15 billion-gallon target.
Yet, less than two weeks later, the EPA announced a formal proposal to discard that promise, opting to address the past refinery handouts based only on unpublished, untrusted and previously discounted Department of Energy estimates — not the actual gallons lost. The move sends a clear signal to Iowa farmers that the president’s EPA has no intention of keeping his pledge or enforcing the law.
The agency’s failure to address the demand destruction has forced Iowa ethanol plants to close their doors and has a tremendously negative impact on farmers, biofuels workers and rural communities.
My company, Prairie Feed & Trucking markets and delivers well over 7,000 semitruck loads of ethanol coproduct feeds to beef and dairy producers annually. The economic uncertainty in the ethanol industry has created issues that are seldom seen beyond the livestock producer. I’ve seen extremely erratic coproduct feed supply availability and price volatility which create constant feed ration changes and animal performance, negatively affecting profitability for animal agriculture. Animal agriculture depends on coproduct feeds from the ethanol industry for optimal performance and profitability.
Iowa corn and soybean farmers have a right to be angry, and we are! If the White House doesn’t make it right starting with 2020 biofuels targets, we are in for another rough year for the heartland, and far too many farm families have already been pushed to the edge.
Thankfully, Iowa’s elected representatives have been vocal in their efforts to demand a fix, and now is the time to ratchet up those efforts. The president needs to hear that his EPA’s actions are a betrayal that will not be forgotten by rural families. And elected leaders who supported the president in 2016, as I did, ought to let him know that he should not count on that support come 2020 unless he takes action now for Iowa’s farmers, rural communities and the renewable fuels industry.