Pressure on the Trump administration to “immediately to restore the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and allow year-round sales of E15 and other mid-level ethanol fuel blends,” increased considerably today.
In what many would consider an unprecedented move, the American Farm Bureau Federation, joined forces with the National Farmers Union as well as the National Corn Growers Association, National Sorghum Producers, American Coalition for Ethanol, Growth Energy, and Renewable Fuels Association in sending a letter to President Trump.
The letter, sent following recent comments by USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue that a decision on RFS and E15 would be coming soon, suggested that previous moves by the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have undermined the RFS.
“The circumstances have changed since you first began considering these issues, and biofuel producers and farmers are suffering. Thousands of biofuel manufacturing and farming jobs in America’s Heartland are now at risk due to the EPA’s recent mismanagement of the RFS and inexplicable delay in removing the de facto summertime ban on E15,” according to the letter.
The letter notes that ethanol prices, RIN credit prices, and ethanol profit margins are falling, as small refiner exemptions issued by EPA have reduced ethanol demand and inflated stocks. The groups also noted that any benefit from year-round E15 sales and proper implementation of the RFS would be nullified if refiners are given further regulatory bailouts that undercut the spirit and intent of RFS.
Calling the expected RFS decision a “potential game-changer,” Michigan Farm Bureau President Carl Bednarski, a Tuscola County cash-crop farmer, says the current farm economy has already bore the brunt of current trade and tariff disputes.
According to Bednarski, new crop contracts for corn on the Chicago Board of Trade, trading at $4.28 per bushel in May, have lost 76-cents, trading at $3.52 currently. He says the 18 percent loss in value to Michigan corn producers alone, is in excess of $234 million.
“As farmers begin to harvest what is expected to be a near-record corn crop this fall and with tariffs putting a damper on export opportunities, agriculture desperately needs expanded access to markets and new sources of demand, such as ethanol,” Bednarski said.
In their letter to President Trump, the groups pointed out that prices received by farmers are sagging below the cost of production. They also took former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to task, saying his decision to waive blending requirements destroyed 2.25 billion gallons of biofuels demand and gave refiners a “windfall.”
“With ethanol prices hitting a 13-year low and net farm income plummeting to half of the record $123 billion achieved in 2013, such an announcement could not come at a more critical juncture for rural America,” the groups wrote. “Now, with the corn and ethanol industries hurting, it’s rural America’s turn to get its end of the deal.”