The Environmental Protection Agency’s recent announcement to grant ethanol production waivers to 31 oil refining companies is another nail in the coffin of family farmers, according to North Dakota Farmers Union President Mark Watne.

“This administration has said they support renewable fuel production and have shown some support by adding E15 year-round,” said Watne. “But the problem is the waivers they have granted take all the gain and more away from ethanol production and usage.”

When waivers are granted, oil refineries are not required to comply with required levels of production under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). That law is intended to increase ethanol and biodiesel production from year to year. Since 2016, a significant uptick in the number of waivers has cut demand for biofuels by 2.6 billion gallons, according to National Farmers Union. Some 85 small refineries have been granted exemptions in the past three years.

Watne said ethanol drives the demand for corn, and corn sales typically lead commodity price increases.

“That’s why these waivers are especially devastating,” he said. “The companies receiving these waivers have had great earnings. Agriculture is projected to have another year of losses. The administration has it backward.”