Farmers fear ethanol talks could ‘destroy’ rural economy

Source: By Steve White, Nebraska TV • Posted: Friday, March 30, 2018

Ethanol and oil are fighting over market share today, as the highway of tomorrow looks very different.

“You’re going to be looking at maybe less liquid fuel being used than we are today, whether it’s electric vehicles coming on or fuel efficiency getting better, cars with better gas mileage,” said Troy Bredenkamp, Executive Director of Renewable Fuels Nebraska.

Oil state senators like Ted Cruz say the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is broken, and he has said jobs at oil refineries are at stake.

“These are blue–collar, working–class jobs, the kind that are the backbone of our economy, the kind that keep refineries going,” Cruz said in a speech on the Senate floor.

But corn growers fear one proposed solution would immediately cut ethanol consumption by a billion gallons a year.

“That would literally destroy the Midwest,” said Jan tenBensel, chair of the Nebraska Ethanol Board.

Just back from Washington, this Cambridge farmer fears changes to ethanol policy would hit rural Nebraska hard.

“We need those young people in our communities, and the economic engine that is ethanol to help fund our communities,” tenBensel said.

And with farm income on the decline, it could send corn prices spiraling even lower.

“Calculated to be a 25 cent per bushel hit on already depressed corn prices,” Bredenkamp said. “And you can figure what’s going to happen to main street Nebraska trying to sell tractors and pivots and things like that.”

So ethanol backers urge the president to honor his commitment.

“We’re going to make sure we do everything we can to make sure Congress and the Trump administration hear from middle America,” Bredenkamp said.

Senators from oil and farm states met with Pres. Trump this week, but did not strike a deal. The White House says negotiations continue.