Biofuels supporters rally at Nevada farm

Source: By Marlys Barker, Nevada Journal • Posted: Monday, March 12, 2018

It was an event designed to precede a White House meeting scheduled for Monday to oppose Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s support for Renewable Fuels Standard waiver credits, saying the credits would decimate current demand for biofuels.

Those who attended the rally at Couser farms north of Nevada Saturday for the “RFS (Renewable Fuel Standards) Rally against the Ted Cruz Oil Refinery Bailout” were told that Monday’s meeting has been canceled, but that there was still reason for Iowa farmers and ethanol supporters to make their voices heard.

“Whenever there’s a call to action, corn farmers step up,” said Mark Recker, president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association.

He told the approximately 170 people who attended the rally that this might be the most critical issue that’s affected farmers in a long time.

The rally brought in ethanol and corn industry officials, as well as farmers from around the state. All those attending were asked to sign a letter — one that urges the protection of the biofuels industry from the interests of “big oil” — which will be given to President Trump.

Bill Howell, general manager of POET Biorefining of Coon Rapids, said the entire point of Saturday’s rally was to gather to support renewable fuels in the face of another challenge to the industry. There are, he said, “forces in Washington … determined to undercut the biofuels,” which he said are important in keeping Iowa and its farmers running.

Howell said farmers and politicians cannot afford to ignore what he described as the deepest reduction in farm income since the Great Depression. He expressed his concern about what he said is a “false narrative” by Cruz in Washington, D.C., which could break the President’s commitment to Iowa’s renewable fuels industry.

“We’re calling on President Trump to keep his promise,” Howell said.

Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) executive director Monte Shaw and Iowa Biodiesel Board executive director Grant Kimberley held a joint press conference Friday about a just-revealed oil industry study, showing the RFS caps would severely reduce biofuels demand. Cruz has called for the caps, even as oil companies are posting record profits while agriculture struggles.

State Sen. Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock, urged those who support the biofuels industry to make their voices heard. The Senate Majority Leader said at Saturday’s rally that the biofuels industry has helped diversify fuels across the state and the country, as well as supported jobs. According to the IRFA, there are 64,000 biodiesel jobs in the U.S., as well as two million farmers who rely on ethanol production for their corn.

Also speaking at the rally was local Nevada resident Charlie Good, who owns Good and Quick in Nevada, which sells biofuels, and Rick Swhwarck, CEO of Absolute Energy LLC. Good and Swhwarck recently traveled to Washington, D.C., and spoke directly to President Trump in a meeting about the issue.

They described that meeting as “tense” with Cruz on one side and people who “get their fingernails dirty” in biofuels, and Republican U.S. Sens. Joni Ernst and Charles Grassley, on the other. Good and Swhwarck said they are hopeful that one outcome of the meeting will be the ability to sell E15 year-round, rather than the current ability to sell it just 8 1/2 months a year.

Grant Menke, policy director for the IRFA, told those at the rally that, “we cannot take our foot off the gas.

“Keep the fight, keep the pressure on President Trump.”