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Iowa Farmers Reiterate Importance of RFS
Iowa Ag Connection - 03/08/2018

Iowa Corn farmer-leaders were in California last week to take part in 2018 Commodity Classic. The delegation from Iowa consisted of Iowa Corn directors, farmer voting delegates and alternates, Iowa Corn Collegiate Advisory Team members, and grassroots leaders.

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) dominated much of the discussion at Classic this year. Earlier this week, the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) sent out a call to action to members to engage on our top priority of defending the RFS. On Monday, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt met with President Trump to discuss possible changes to the RFS. The following day, the President met with U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA). Following the meeting, Senator Grassley communicated that there was "no deal" reached to make changes to the RFS. Senator Cruz, however walked away from the meeting saying that the administration was "close" to accepting the oil industry's changes that would reduce the demand for ethanol, reduce the demand for corn and seriously impact the struggling ag economy.

On Monday, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and other farm groups sent a letter to President Trump outlining their concerns of any changes to the RFS. During the week, Iowa Corn directors and Commodity Classic delegates worked together with NCGA and other corn states to engage on defending the RFS.

This morning, Iowa Corn Growers Association President Mark Recker along with other industry leaders met with Secretary Perdue who reiterated his support of the RFS while saying the corn industry must look at ways to come to the table and cannot just dismiss this challenge to our industry.

"The RFS has been the most successful energy program. We as farmers, cannot support a deal or bargain whereby EPA grants RVP relief in exchange for "reforms" to the RFS such as capping RIN prices or allowing RIN credits on exported renewable fuel," said Recker. "RINs drive blending ethanol to obligated levels. Any cap or other manipulation would disrupt that mechanism and diminish the effectiveness of the RFS. Blending more homegrown biofuels like ethanol into gasoline lowers the cost to consumers, provides cleaner air, increases our U.S. energy independence, provides nearly 360,000 industry jobs, and helps grind more corn. We thank Senator Grassley and Senator Ernst for diligently defending Iowa's corn farmers and the ethanol industry."

A few hours later, President Trump held a meeting with representatives from the ethanol and oil industries, along with Senators Cruz, Ernst, and Grassley. The discussion within the meeting centered around the expansion of ethanol blends, especially how a fix to the RVP regulation could allow for year-round sales of E15 and alleviate price pressure on the RIN market. At the end of the meeting, Senator Cruz pitched a proposal for a two-year RIN cap. However, ICGA was pleased to hear that the President expressed a great interest in E15 expansion, and even hinted at a possible meeting as early as next week to learn more.

At this afternoon's session of Corn Congress, delegates unanimously approved a resolution that read, "Whereas, the RFS has been a successful public policy for our nation's energy security, the environment and rural America and Whereas, the RINs component of the RFS is vital to the success of the RFS and Whereas, RINS are the market mechanism that drives the blending to obligated levels and Whereas. Any cap or other manipulation of the RIN program would disrupt that mechanism and diminish the related incentive to blend and Whereas, farmers across the country are facing historically low prices and the farm economy is truly suffering. Therefore, we, the assembled voting delegates, do ask President Trump to retain the current RIN system without change."

A key task for ICGA at Classic is speaking in support of policies and actions that the NCGA should promote to benefit Iowa's farmers. "In Iowa, the policy process starts with the grassroots farmer-members from across the state through our membership survey and at our local roundtable meetings. The resolutions then move to the ICGA Grassroots Summit, and now onto national policy development during NCGA's Corn Congress at Commodity Classic," said Recker. "This week, Iowa corn farmers brought their actions and policy positions that matter back at home in Iowa to the national platform."

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