Nobody really expects a candidate for public office to actually do everything he or she promises on the campaign trail. After all, it’s a lot easier to come up with ideas that sound good or please potential voters than it is to actually figure out how to put those ideas into policy or practice.
So, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that the U.S. EPA has indicated it is considering reducing proposed Renewable Fuel Standard volumes — including those that were finalized just last year — even after candidates at multiple levels on the campaign trail promised to protect the RFS.
American Soybean Association President Ron Moore, who farms in Roseville, Ill., has called the proposed EPA action a “betrayal of farmers” and warned that “scaling back the RFS endangers the livelihood of the 64,000 American workers who rely on biodiesel and the rural communities where soybeans and biodiesel are produced, not to mention farmers nationwide, for whom biodiesel and other renewable fuels present a vital market for their products.”
It’s not like soybean producers are struggling to generate the feedstock for the 1.9 billion gallons of biodiesel that was produced in 2016. Stocks of soybeans are overflowing grain bins even before the harvest of 2017 gets rolling.
And it’s not like there isn’t demand for more of the product. More than a billion gallons of biomass-based diesel were imported into the U.S. in 2016, an indication that the market is there for a robust increase in the RFS for biodiesel.
The ASA has advocated for raising the production level to at least 2.5 billion gallons for 2019. Instead, EPA is suggesting trimming current levels.
Moore points out that the farm economy is already struggling and that the RFS has been a reliable booster of the ag economy — not just for soybean growers, but for local and state tax revenues and economic activity in rural communities.
On the campaign trail, candidate Donald Trump said he would support investments in biofuels and the RFS. Now is the time for farmers to remind him of that promise — and of the need to protect the income of farmers, and of the thousands of jobs that rely on the biofuels industry.
The Oct. 19 deadline for comments is fast approaching. ASA will be responding to EPA on behalf of soybean growers across the country. But farmers should also make their own case to elected officials.