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Farm groups caution President against weakening RFS

27 February 2018

Ahead of a Tuesday White House meeting on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), National Farmers Union (NFU) and five other prominent farm organisations are urging President Trump to avoid seeking changes that would weaken the nation’s premier biofuel policy.

The meeting will bring together key lawmakers and Cabinet members to discuss escalating tensions over the RFS between oil industry and ethanol industry interests.

The farm groups sent the President a letter today, underscoring the importance of a strong RFS for farming and rural communities that are currently coping with a severely depressed farm economy.

NFU President Roger Johnson asks that President Trump remember the promises he made to farmers and rural communities:

"The President and his administration have expressed strong support for the RFS since the early days of President Trump’s campaign.

"We want to be sure he remembers these promises he made to farmers and rural communities as he meets with senior administration officials and lawmakers. Rural communities are under a lot of economic stress, so there is much to gain from a strong RFS, and a lot to lose by weakening it."

The farm groups’ letter drew attention to the dire state of the farm economy:

"The heart of America is being left behind when it comes to economic growth and opportunity."

The US Department of Agriculture projects 2018 net farm income will decline $4.3 billion, a 6.7 percent reduction from 2017 levels. This represents a 50 percent decline in net farm income since 2013.

The groups also noted that for the past ten years, the RFS has been a strong engine driving the rural economy:

"The RFS, which sets targets for blending ethanol and biodiesel into our nation’s fuel supply, created new markets for our farmers, created new jobs in rural America, gave consumers more fuel choices, and improved our nation’s air quality.

"By any measure, the RFS has been successful not only for agriculture, but for our nation."

Yet as economic conditions in rural America continue to decline, most oil refiners are experiencing a boom and significant gains from recent tax reforms. And it is their opposition that is fueling the depressed growth of homegrown biofuel industry, according to the farm groups.

Recent claims from an East Coast refiner that the RFS caused it to file for bankruptcy initiated the most recent round of tensions and therefore the Tuesday meeting at the White House. The letter noted that these claims “are not reflective of the state of the refining industry, but rather the hallmark of poor business decisions and a willingness to put investor returns before refinery jobs.”

The letter states:

"Despite the claims of adverse impacts from Renewable Identification Number (RIN) costs, last November, the Environmental Protection Agency concluded that RIN values are not causing economic harm to refiners.

"The failings of one company should not be used as an excuse for undermining a law that serves hundreds of ethanol and biodiesel plants, tens of thousands of renewable fuel plant workers, and millions of farmers who rely upon the strong market demand created by the RFS."

Concluding the letter, the group urge President Trump to consider the impacts on farmers:

"There are options to address refiners’ concerns that do not undercut the RFS. Any action that seeks to weaken the RFS for the benefit of a handful of refiners will, by extension, be borne on the backs of our farmers."

 

As reported by NFU





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