Corn Growers Rally on Capitol Hill
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in May that it was proposing to cut the renewable fuel standards by approximately 4 billion gallons this year and approximately 5 billion gallons in 2016. This reduction translates to a loss of nearly 1.5 billion bushels in corn demand according to the Kansas Corn Growers Association. The newly proposed standard would call for 16.3 billion gallons of renewable fuels to be used in 2015 – down from 20.5 billion called for by Congress on 2007, and 17.4 billion used next year – down from an initial determination of 22.2 billion gallons. The reductions are being called for due to inadequate infrastructure and concerns about farmers’ ability to meet the higher demand structure.
“There would be widespread noncompliance, and the EPA is not in the habit of putting out standards we don’t think are achievable,” said Chris Grundler, director of transportation and air quality for the EPA.
The proposal has sparked push-back from grain farmers, and of the 300 who testified before EPA officials in Washington DC, 85% urged the agency to keep the standards set forth by Congress in 2007.
Coinciding with the National Corn Growers Association’s Corn Congress, round two of the “Rally for Rural America” took place on July 15.
“We just want to reinforce our stand and commitment with our legislators about putting pressure on the EPA to revisit their stance on RFS – getting it returned to what the law requires,” said Kansas corn grower, Dennis McNinch.
The industry is taking steps to address the concerns raised by the EPA according to McNinch, who is a member of the NCGA’s Ethanol Action Team. These steps include the $100,000 “Prime the Pump” campaign, which has been created to increased consumers’ access to higher ethanol blends and to increase infrastructure.
The rally on Capitol Hill will give the industry the ability connect with lawmakers across the entire country in support of ethanol, which has supported famer incomes and the country’s rural communities more than “any other rural development effort I can think of”, says Ken McCauley, former NCGA president and White Cloud, Kansas farmer.