Thursday farmers from the National Corn Growers Association and the National Farmers Union announced the release of their white paper on how the EPA’s proposed rule on the Renewable Fuel Standard is threatening farm income and rural economies across the United States. On the call, farmers and agriculture leaders spoke to the harm that uncertainties surrounding the renewable fuel volume standards are causing to America’s hardworking farmers and ranchers. Roger Johnson, President of the National Farmers Union said, “The EPA’s proposed rule and the uncertainty around it have frozen investment in rural communities and sources of income for farmers in the advanced and cellulosic biofuels industry at a crucial time.”
President of the National Corn Growers Association Chip Bowling said, “Our country’s farmers and biofuels producers have met the challenges of the RFS, investing in renewable fuel production and creating jobs in rural America that can’t be outsourced to other countries. Thanks to the RFS, we are helping to reduce foreign oil dependence with clean, secure American-made renewable fuel.”
“However, the EPA’s weakened proposed rule has hurt farm income across the country – the USDA has projected net cash income for American farmers and ranchers to decline by 26 percent this year. Now is not the time to break our commitment to America’s farmers. It’s time to put forth a strong RFS so we can continue moving our country forward and bolster farm income in our rural communities.”
The RFS has been an American success story since it became law in 2005. Corn farmers have led the way to major growth in the ethanol industry, increasing production through investments in technology, improved yields, and sustainable practices. This has created more than 852,000 jobs nationwide, particularly in rural communities, as well as higher farm incomes across the country. But escalating uncertainty and the EPA’s weakened proposed rule have cost the renewable fuel industry – shuttering ethanol facilities and threatening the livelihoods of our farming communities.
Now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has projected net farm income for American farmers and ranchers will decline by 50 percent by the end of 2015 from the peak levels of 2013. This is the lowest net farm income level in almost a decade. And it will only continue to get worse unless the final rule gets back on track.
The EPA’s decision to weaken the RFS has had significant consequences for America’s farmers, but it’s not too late. The EPA can and must put out a strong RFS come November 30.