The EPA has proposed mandating less ethanol and biodiesel be produced next year. During a 60 day comment period, Indiana corn and soybean leaders are preparing a response. Joe Steinkamp, Indiana Soybean Allience Policy Committee Chairman, says farmers need to send a strong message to the EPA that this is not an acceptable policy, “It is time for farmers to make the point to their legislators that this is not the right policy for US agriculture or the US economy.”
A public hearing on the proposal is set for December 5 in Arlington, VA, and representatives of the American Soybean Association and National Corn Growers Association plan to testify. Steinkamp, a farmer from Evansville, IN, told HAT that, by reducing the amount of renewable fuel produced the economy, the farm economy will suffer, “Our goal as corn and soybean farmers is to produce as much corn and soybeans as we can. We know that biofuels are a great way to use this renewable resource, and it helps our nation import less oil and create jobs here at home. This keeps the Indiana economy strong because the biofuels industry employs many Hoosiers.”
David Gobrath, Indiana Corn Grower VP, says consumers will also be impacted by the EPA proposal in the form of higher fuel prices and higher food prices, “Most people don’t realize how this will impact them in not a good way. They think their food bill will go down; but, if farmers can’t make a living, food prices will go up.” Allen Kemper, Tippecanoe County grower and former President of ASA, said the thinner profit margins that will result from the EPA ruling will be especially hard on younger producers, “Us older farmers can deal with these thin profit margins, but the next generation of growers cannot.”
The state organizations are urging farmers not to leave this fight to the national organizations but to speak up and make their voices heard in opposition to the EPA plan. They are optimistic that, with enough support, the EPA will reverse their proposal. At a policy briefing in Indianapolis last week, growers were told the EPA decision came as a result of pressure from the White House, specifically the Office of Management and Budget. Sources in Washington feel there is a 50/50 chance the EPA proposal can be reversed as a result of strong opposition during the comment period.