Midwest Governors Say Trump Still A Friend To Farmers Despite Industry Frustration Over EPA Proposal

Source: By By Katie Peikes, Iowa Public Radio • Posted: Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem held a press conference after a conference in South Dakota.

Some Iowa farmers and ethanol industry advocates say a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposal released last week to account for lost demand for renewable fuels because of small refinery waivers is not what President Donald Trump promised. But at a news conference following a meeting in South Dakota with three Midwest Republican governors, the governors said President Trump is committed, and a friend to farmers.

Asked if they still think Trump is a friend to farmers, all three Republican governors said yes. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said Trump is committed to the rule that requires a certain amount of renewable fuels be blended into gasoline.

“I mean he’s committed,” Reynolds said. “Every time I’ve talked to him in the Oval Office, he’s committed to adhering to the rule, so we just need EPA to follow through with it.”

Reynolds said Trump and members of his cabinet have visited Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota several times and are constantly talking to farmers. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts added Trump’s EPA has focused on a bunch of key policy issues to help farmers, like rolling back an Obama-era rule expanding federal protections of some waterways. A final rule to revise the definition of the Waters of the United States is expected this winter.

“If you look at other policy issues like the Waters of the U.S., which would’ve been a terrible rule for our farmers and ranchers, his EPA rolled that back and came back with a more common sense approach there,” Ricketts said. “On ethanol, the president has worked on E-15 all year round; that’s something the EPA rolled out.”

Ricketts continued, “We need to get this RFS right …We want to make sure that the EPA, when it writes this final rule, gets it so 15 billion gallons means 15 billion gallons.”

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said Trump has “always followed through” on things he said he was going to do, including on the trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. She said she believes he’ll follow through on the Renewable Fuels Standard issue as well.

“I’ve never heard another president talk so much about his heart for farmers,” Noem said.

Some farmers and ethanol industry advocates were disappointed with the EPA’s proposal released last week, saying it goes back on a deal discussed with the White House to restore demand for renewable fuels that was impacted by small refinery waivers that allow oil refineries to blend less ethanol into their gasoline.

Primghar farmer Kelly Nieuwenhuis is president of the board of Siouxland Energy, a northwest Iowa ethanol plant that idled production in September, blaming the waivers. He said he was not happy with the EPA’s proposal.

“We’re asking President Trump to step up and make it right and get to the deal we were promised,” Nieuwenhuis said.

He added the EPA’s proposal “really can’t help us” and it’s unclear when Siouxland Energy will be able to resume production.

Nieuwenhuis said he plans to comment on the EPA’s proposal before the final rule is put in place. According to the EPA’s website, the federal agency will hold a public hearing on Oct. 30. A 30-day public comment period will follow.