Corn, Soybean Leaders Differ on RFS Perspectives

Source: By Megan Johnson, NTV • Posted: Friday, December 11, 2015

Lots of ag groups are meeting during this time between harvest and planting to talk about things impacting their crops and industries. A topic coming up often: the renewable fuel requirement numbers recently set by the EPA.

State and national corn and soybean leaders were talking with producers about the issues when the Nebraska Soybean Association and Nebraska Corn Growers Association held their joint annual meeting.

The view the ethanol and biodiesel mandates from different perspectives, but both agree the Environmental Protection Agency’s final levels are higher and better than the ones first proposed back in June.

“We are glad that the number came up from the original numbers they showed, but they still stayed well below the statutory levels and we’re disappointed that they didn’t follow the law and put statutory levels back out,” says Wesley Spurlock, First Vice President of the National Corn Growers Association.

That’s the thought from the national and Nebraska corn organizations, saying the 14.5 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol required in 2016 is short of the 15 billion written in RFS law, but capable of being waived by the EPA.

Meanwhile, biodiesel levels are set to march steadily upward through 2017 to two billion gallons. It’s news soybean producers say is good, but not great, as supply is already abundant.

“The thing is the demand has already been met, or they’re able to meet the demand right now, so it doesn’t really make a lot of difference, it’s just the insurance that we have of the consumption of that product,” says Nebraska Soybean Association President Dennis Fujan.

American Soybean Association President Wade Cowan says even though he’s pleased with the numbers, he knows it will take more than his crop to keep ag strong in the renewable fuel market.

“We’ll work closely with corn going forward to try to make sure those ethanol levels come up to because I’m a big believer, and it’s been a deal of my presidency, that all the commodity groups have to work together and we can’t leave on sector behind,” Cowan says.

The RFS levels are targets to meet, says Cowan. Spurlock says more than $200 million is coming in the next year and a half to improve ethanol infrastructure, so leaders say they’ll have to push harder for higher renewable fuel volumes next time.

“Those are things that are beyond our control to set, so I think that we take them as they are, we get back to work, and try to make the changes that we need to make to get it where we want it to be,” says Larry Mussack, Nebraska Corn Growers Association President.

Reporter’s notes:

Some livestock groups are also on different sides of the RFS numbers. The National Chicken Council, for one, says the higher levels are bad for poultry producers and will raise food and fuel prices for consumers.