The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent announcement of the 2020 Renewable Volume Obligations under the nation’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is one more empty promise to farmers, said North Dakota Farmers Union President Mark Watne.
“This administration continues to say it supports farmers and renewable fuel production, but their promises are empty,” said Watne. “Lowering biofuel production is bad for farm income, it’s bad for the environment, and it’s bad for rural communities that have lost jobs due to RFS waivers they’ve granted to oil companies over the past three years.”
Since 2016, the administration has granted more than 85 waivers to oil refineries, exempting them from meeting required levels of biofuel production under the RFS. That law is intended to increase ethanol and biodiesel production annually and has been an important market for corn producers in North Dakota.
Watne urged EPA last month to change its calculation approach and incorporate the exempted gallons from waivers into volume requirements based on a three-year average. The former would have increased the amount of production by 1.35 billion gallons per year, compared to the announced 770 million gallons.
“We need to build agricultural markets, not hurt them,” Watne said. “The administration needs to do more than pay lip service to farmers. Their actions continue to speak louder than words.”
Watne said ethanol drives the demand for corn, and corn sales typically lead commodity price increases.