Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and 12 of their Senate colleagues sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture requesting additional funds be allocated to the biofuel industry through the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) during the unprecedented economic circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As the country follows the advice of local and state governments and remain at home, motor fuel use has rapidly decreased… The decrease in fuel consumption has left production facilities little choice but to idle production or close completely,” the senators wrote in a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue.
“Farm income and prices for corn and other crop commodities are directly linked to the health of the renewable fuel industry. Ethanol plants use 40 percent of all corn grown in the United States. Among other feedstocks, biodiesel and renewable diesel producers currently use over 8 billion pounds of soybean oil a year, creating demand that adds 13 percent to the cash price of a bushel of soybeans. We have seen a significant drop in the price of corn and soybeans because of the decline in demand. Keeping plants open is vital for our states and we ask that you use the authority given by Congress to assist the biofuel industry during extremely difficult times. We are supportive of the proposals the biofuel industry has put forward to reimburse feedstocks and also believe that adding additional CCC funds to the Higher-Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program will drive future biofuel demand,” the senators continued.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stabilization (CARES) Act provided an additional $14 billion to the CCC to help stabilize, support and protect farm income and prices while also maintaining balanced and adequate supplies of agricultural commodities, according to an April 7 news release describing the letter. In addition to Grassley, Duckworth and Ernst, the letter is cosigned by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and John Thune (R-S.D).