Leading biofuel and farm advocates in the US called on House and Senate leaders to ensure the next round of COVID-19 relief does not overlook US ethanol and biodiesel production. The joint letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was signed by the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, the National Biodiesel Board, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Corn Growers Association, the American Soybean Association, the National Farmers Union, the National Oilseed Processors Association, the National Renderers Association, the National Sorghum Producers, and Fuels America.
The situation we face is dire. More than 130 biofuel plants have already partially or fully shut down as motor fuel demand plunged to 50-year lows. America’s biofuel plants purchase annually more than one-third of US corn and US soybean oil, and the loss of those markets has depressed farm income and will continue to push corn and soybean prices down dramatically. The damage has rippled across the entire agricultural supply chain.—Letter to Congress
The letter notes that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) excluded the biofuel sector from initial aid under CARES Act, despite urgent letters of support to Secretary Sonny Perdue from broad, bipartisan coalitions in the House and Senate.
While it is important that biofuel producers are included in any infrastructure or tax legislation designed to hasten America’s long-term economic recovery from COVID-19, relief is needed now to ensure these producers are positioned bring renewable fuel production back online when conditions improve. It is vital that the next COVID-19 relief package include immediate, temporary, and direct assistance to help the US biofuel industry retain its skilled workforce and mitigate the impact of plant closures on the food and feed supply chain and rural communities.