Rural America & Biofuels

We are seeing more and more reports about the dire situation facing agriculture and rural America. Worldwide oversupplies of grain – coupled with increasing ag production around the globe – are creating long-term effects for farmers and the U.S. economy at large.

photo by Greg Latza

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the amount of debt currently held by America's farmers reflects a level of strain not seen since the ag crisis of the 1980s. In 2018, farm bankruptcies in three regions across the Corn Belt also rose to the highest level in at least 10 years. Commodity prices continue to drop, and the ongoing trade disputes with major buyers of farm goods are driving agricultural markets even lower.

Financial stress for farmers is growing. “Compared to responses from a year ago, fewer farms said they expect their operation to grow in the future, which could be a sign of increasing financial stress,” noted James Mintert, who directs Purdue University’s Center for Commercial Agriculture.

We’ve reached a tipping point in ag — and we need a solution. Biofuels are the only near-term solution that can get agriculture out of crisis mode and help get farmers back on their feet.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued a proposed rule on nationwide adoption of year-round E15. This rule is anticipated to usher in demand for an additional 7 billion gallons of ethanol in the coming years, which will require an additional 2 billion bushels of corn each year.

Year-round E15 will draw down worldwide stocks of commodities, making farmers more profitable — not only in the Midwest but across the globe. And the potential doesn’t stop at corn; cellulose and other feed stocks will eventually feel the effects as well. In addition, new bioprocessing plants will be constructed to meet the rising demand for biofuels, creating jobs and economic growth in rural communities.

Year-round E15 will help restore the economies of our ag states, and no trade agreement or foreign government can take this new demand away. That’s in addition to cleaning up our air, slowing climate change, and providing a lower-cost, higher-octane option at the pump for American consumers.

While we’re excited about the prosperity that E15 will bring to agriculture, it’s important to remember that the fight is not over. We know the oil industry will work overtime with their high-powered lobbyists and highly funded political organizations to discredit ethanol and reverse this decision.

I’ve said for many years that this isn’t just a battle between biofuels and oil — it’s a war between the entire agriculture industry and oil producers worldwide.

We need to show our policymakers that rural America supports biofuels. We need to ensure the EPA takes action on year-round E15 in time for the 2019 summer driving season. Rural America needs it.




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