The COVID-19 pandemic has hit farmers hard, and an ethanol industry spokesperson says it has taken a toll on much more.
A biofuel trade association spokesperson, Chris Bliley of Growth Energy, says it's been a 'brutal' year for producers and those associated businesses. He says fuel consumption was cut in half as coronavirus struck and half the biofuel industry was off line.....
"That's reduced production of co-products like distiller's grains, carbon dioxide for refrigeration, meat packing, as well as variety of things the plants do, not to mention the immediate impact on jobs and the market for their farm partners..."
He says many of the ethanol producers make corn oil and many other products. Those jobs were lost during the shutdown which, he says, ripples across rural areas. He says both chambers of Congress are working on packages to help the biofuels industry, one bill already has passed the House....
"The Dept. of Energy forecasts that we'll be off a billion gallons of ethanol next year as well. It is critical to get our industry back on its feet and in the long term we look toward growth for higher biofuel blends..."
Bliley says they're also working to reduce exemptions the EPA has given to the petroleum industry to circumvent Renewable Fuel Standards. Late last week Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin joined with several other Midwestern Senators in a letter to the EPA to halt giving the exemptions.
Congress created the renewable fuel standard program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and expand the nation’s renewable fuels sector while reducing reliance on imported oil.