Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, recently joined a group of her Republican colleagues in calling for the Biden administration to explain why there are still significant delays in getting financial assistance for farmers and ethanol producers out the door.

In June 2021, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced $700 million in aid to biofuel producers. Senator Fischer fought to ensure farmers and ethanol producers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic would be eligible for assistance in the consolidated appropriations bill, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump in 2020. It has been over 60 days since Biden’s USDA indicated that this critical assistance would be released.

In the letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, the group writes, “We are concerned about the delay in financial assistance for our nation’s biofuel sector during the unprecedented economic circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

They continue, “As you know, we have been advocating for targeted relief for the biofuel industry since the onset of the pandemic and the demand collapse for ethanol, biodiesel, and other renewable fuels. On June 15, 2021, we welcomed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announcement of $700 million in aid to biofuel producers as part of the USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. In your press release, you indicated that this assistance would be implemented within 60 days. It is simply unacceptable that it has been over 120 days since your announcement and biofuel producers are still waiting…It is past time our hardworking biofuel producers receive the critical aid that you promised.”

Senator Fischer’s actions to support biofuel producers:

  • Introduced the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act to ensure blends higher than E10 can be sold year-round
  • Introduced the RFS Integrity Act to create transparency and predictability to EPA’s small refinery exemption process and require any exempted gallons to be accounted for in annual RVOs
  • Joined letter to USDA urging them to use the Commodity Credit Corporation/December 2020 COVID relief bill to provide assistance to biofuels industry
  • Led bipartisan letter to EPA urging them to reject requests to waive RFS requirements and support robust RVO
  • Joined letter to President Biden urging him to reject calls to undercut RFS by reducing blending requirements and uphold his campaign promises
  • Joined letter requesting meeting with President Biden about the lack of prioritization of biofuels in the administration’s policies

The letter was also signed by Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Michael Rounds (R-S.D.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), John Thune (R-S.D.).

Text of the letter can be viewed here or below.

The Honorable Tom Vilsack Secretary

U.S. Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Avenue SW

Washington, DC 20250

Dear Secretary Vilsack,

We are concerned about the delay in financial assistance for our nation’s biofuel sector during the unprecedented economic circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As you know, we have been advocating for targeted relief for the biofuel industry since the onset of the pandemic and the demand collapse for ethanol, biodiesel, and other renewable fuels. On June 15, 2021, we welcomed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announcement of $700 million in aid to biofuel producers as part of the USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. In your press release, you indicated that this assistance would be implemented within 60 days. It is simply unacceptable that it has been over 120 days since your announcement and biofuel producers are still waiting.

The pandemic continues to negatively affect biofuel producers. As feedstocks have experienced historic highs, margins to produce biofuel have risen, and many plants remain offline or are operating at reduced rates. With President Biden’s plan to decarbonize the transportation and agriculture sectors, we remind you of the important role of biofuel. It is past time our hardworking biofuel producers receive the critical aid that you promised.

As the Department continues to implement the Pandemic Assistance initiative, we stress the urgency of much needed help to ensure biofuel producers are able to survive. Thank you for considering our critical request and for your dedication to rural America. We look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure American agriculture and rural communities receive the support needed in response to the ongoing pandemic.

Sincerely,

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