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Fueling the ethanol industry

By Bill Shea - Messenger editor | Sep 28, 2020



A recent move by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency is being welcomed as good news for Iowa farmers and ethanol producers.

The agency’s decision to deny several waivers that allow oil companies to use less ethanol will result in an additional 1 billion bushels of corn being consumed, according to Bill Horan, a Calhoun County farmer who personally lobbied President Donald Trump on behalf of ethanol producers in 2018.

”That’s a big deal,” he said of the projected increase in corn use.

However, it may be a year before area farmers see the impact of the EPA’s decision, he said

The ethanol industry has been hit hard by the drop in demand for fuel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

”The biggest part of the problem is we’re not driving very many miles,” Horan said.

He added that some ethanol plants may end up closing.

The biodiesel industry, he said, is in better shape than the ethanol business because big trucks are still rolling throughout the country.

Exports to China may prove to be another bright spot for Iowa farmers. China was already buying corn and soybeans, and Horan said a recent typhoon that devastated crops there may prompt the country to buy even more.

The EPA’s decision came less than two months before the presidential election.

”It makes you wonder,” Horan said. ”They need Iowa. I would hope the decision was made because it was the right thing to do, but I’m sure it was a complicated decision.”

The move was welcomed by Iowa commodity groups which have long pushed the EPA to put an end to the waivers.

”By having the gap-waivers denied and looking to deny future waivers, this helps secure the Renewable Fuels Standard for the future and allows some certainty for Iowa’s corn farmers in a year that has had little rewards,” Carl Jardon, president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, said in a written statement.

Jeff Jorgenson, president of the Iowa Soybean Association, said ”Iowa’s biodiesel plants and soybean farms, like mine in southwest Iowa, and our communities will benefit from putting an end to the slow leak that has hampered the Renewable Fuels Standard.”

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