WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced legislation to support biofuel producers negatively affected by the pandemic. This legislation will require the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to reimburse biofuel producers for their feedstock purchases from January 1, 2020 through March 31, 2020 through the Commodity Credit Corporation.
“At a time when many farmers and rural communities are feeling disproportionate impacts from the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important we work to keep our renewable fuel industry strong,” Klobuchar said. “Renewable fuel processing plants employ thousands of people in rural areas, purchase billions of bushels of commodities from farmers, and provide stability in our agricultural supply chain. This legislation will ensure farmers and workers receive our support during these tough times.”
“The biofuels industry works directly with our farmers. And the current disruptions from the pandemic have created ripple effects, including steep declines in corn and soybean prices. We need to continue to support those farmers who feed and fuel our country and the world. This bill will help ensure biofuel producers survive this economic downturn and also ensure corn and soybean farmers have a place to sell their products,” Grassley said.
As the coronavirus pandemic spread, gasoline use in the United States plummeted to 50-year lows around the country. From March 8th to April 4th of this year, the total miles driven dropped by 58 percent. This rapid decrease in consumption has led more than 130 biofuel plants to partially or fully shut down.
Klobuchar and Grassley initially pushed for this proposal as an amendment in the CARES Act to match the proposed funding for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. When assistance for the oil industry was not included in the package, neither was the biofuel amendment. However, there have since been purchases for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve through administrative action. Klobuchar and Grassley continued to hear from their constituents and members of the biofuel industry and introduced this as separate legislation.
“We appreciate Sen. Klobuchar’s unwavering support for renewable fuels and are grateful for her efforts to help the ethanol industry and farmers weather these challenging times. Ethanol producers are facing the worst economic crisis in the industry’s history, as demand has collapsed in response to COVID-19 and dozens of plants have been shuttered. The legislation introduced today by Sens. Klobuchar and Grassley would lend a vital helping hand and assist renewable fuel producers as they attempt to get back on their feet. We thank Sen. Klobuchar for her resolve and dedication, and we look forward to the inclusion and expeditious passage of this emergency relief provision for the ethanol industry in the next COVID-19 stimulus package,” Geoff Cooper, President and CEO Renewable Fuels Association said.
“Urgent, bipartisan calls to protect America’s biofuel sector continue to resonate across Capitol Hill, and we’re grateful to Senators Grassley and Klobuchar for outlining a solution that would deliver immediate relief for biofuel workers, our farm partners, and thousands of rural communities,” Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said. “After the devastation created by COVID-19, it’s vital that Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture ensure that biofuel plants stand ready to restore production and reopen markets for America’s farmers. Unless Washington acts, we’ll be trying to rebuild the rural economy with one arm tied behind our back.”
“We are grateful to Senators Grassley and Klobuchar for supporting the biodiesel industry and U.S. farmers as they deal with the economic fallout of the coronavirus emergency. The biodiesel and renewable diesel industry provides a valuable market for recycled cooking oils, surplus animal fats and vegetable oils, such as soybean oil. Biodiesel production supports 13% of the value of each bushel of U.S. soybeans. Maintaining a strong biodiesel industry is vital to keeping America’s critical agricultural infrastructure healthy,” Kurt Kovarik, VP of Federal Affairs, National Biodiesel Board said.
The legislation can be found HERE.