Ernst, Grassley Call for Relief for Iowa’s Biofuel Industry Negatively Impacted by COVID-19

The Iowa senators are joining Dems and Repubs in requesting USDA to provide additional funds to the biofuel industry

RED OAK, Iowa – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, along with her Iowa colleague, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and 11 of her Senate colleagues today sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) requesting additional funds be provided to the biofuel industry through the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) – which was bolstered by the bipartisan Phase 3 relief package Congress passed – 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 historic 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.

Full text of the letter can be found HERE.

In the Phase 3 relief package, Ernst supported key measures that will help Iowa’s agriculture, including:

  • Funding for additional commodity purchases, which will assist farmers and food banks and pantries.
  • Direct assistance to farmers and producers through the Commodity Credit Corporation and emergency support.
  • Additional support for food inspections to protect the security of our food supply.
  • Elimination of the excise tax for alcohol used to produce hand sanitizer, which Iowa’s renewable fuels industry has helped provide during COVID-19.   

Background on Ernst’s efforts to combat COVID-19:

Senator Ernst has fought to deliver relief to all Iowans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some of her efforts:

  • Delivered major wins for Iowa’s workers, employers, health care industry, and more in the bipartisan Phase 3 package.
  • Supported  the “Phase 1” bipartisan package to provide additional resources to federal, state and local authorities.
  • Helped pass the “Phase 2” bill to provide paid sick leave, free COVID-19 diagnostic testing, and increased support for nutrition for seniors and children.
  • Called for an ‘all hands on deck’ approach to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Urged the Senate to prioritize relief for hospitals, community health centers, and workers on the front lines.
  • Announced a proposal to immediately redirect the over $350M in the Presidential Campaign Election Fund to be used to purchase specialized face masks and personal protective equipment.
  • Asked the State Department to immediately act to get Iowans stranded abroad back home.
  • Sought tariff relief for Iowa’s businesses by calling on Treasury to defer all tariffs during the pandemic.
  • Took questions from Iowans in Dubuque and Siouxland areas on COVID-19 relief.
  • Answered questions from Iowans in Quad Cities area on COVID-19 relief.
  • Called on two federal health agencies to protect Iowa’s Medicare beneficiaries from high-risk settings and ensure safe access to care as we continue to work to combat COVID-19.
  • Held a telephone town hall with thousands of Iowans to help answer some questions and hear directly from folks.
  • Hosted another telephone town hall with Iowa’s seniors and elderly community.
  • Participated in discussions at the State Emergency Operations Center with Governor Kim Reynolds.
  • Joined Governor Reynolds at her press conference to give an update on federal relief efforts.
  • Discussed the need to work together – at federal, state, and local level – to tackle COVID-19.
  • Published a column on everyone doing their part to protect seniors and fellow Iowans from COVID-19.
  • Penned a second column outlining the federal relief packages Congress passed and reminding Iowans we will get through this, together.  

For additional information for Iowans on COVID-19, you can visit Senator Ernst’s website, which includes resources for families and individualssmall businesses, and seniors.

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