Farmer-leaders of the Iowa Corn Growers Association were in California last week to take part in the 2018 Commodity Classic. The delegation from Iowa consisted of Iowa Corn directors, farmer voting delegates and alternates, Iowa Corn Collegiate Advisory Team members, and grassroots leaders.
The Renewable Fuel Standard and Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) dominated much of the discussion at the Classic this year. Earlier in the week, ICGA sent out a call to action to members to engage on the top priority of defending the RFS. On February 26, U.S. Secretary of Ag Sonny Perdue and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt met with President Donald Trump to discuss possible changes to the RFS. The following day, the President met with U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.
No deal reached
Following the meeting, Grassley communicated that there was “no deal” reached to make changes to the RFS. Cruz, however walked away from the meeting saying that the Trump administration was “close” to accepting the oil industry’s changes that would reduce the demand for ethanol, reduce the demand for corn, and seriously impact the struggling ag economy.
Also on Feb. 26, the National Corn Growers Association and other farm groups sent a letter to Trump outlining their concerns of any changes to the RFS. During the week, Iowa Corn directors and Commodity Classic delegates worked together with NCGA and other corn states to engage on defending the RFS.
On March 1, ICGA President Mark Recker along with other industry leaders met with Perdue who emphasized his support of the RFS while saying the corn industry must look at ways to come to the table and cannot just dismiss this challenge to the corn industry by the petroleum industry.
“The RFS has been the most successful energy program,” Recker said. “We as farmers, cannot support a deal or bargain whereby EPA grants RVP relief in exchange for “reforms” to the RFS such as capping RIN prices or allowing RIN credits on exported renewable fuel,” he said. “RINs drive blending ethanol to obligated levels. Any cap or other manipulation would disrupt that mechanism and diminish the effectiveness of the RFS.”
He said, “Blending more homegrown biofuels like ethanol into gasoline lowers the cost to consumers, provides cleaner air, increases our U.S. energy independence, provides nearly 360,000 industry jobs, and helps grind more corn. We thank Sen. Grassley and Sen. Ernst for diligently defending Iowa’s corn farmers and the ethanol industry.”
Cruz pushing for 2-year RIN cap
A few hours later, Trump held a meeting with representatives from the ethanol and oil industries, along with Cruz, Ernst and Grassley. The discussion within the meeting centered around the expansion of ethanol blends, especially how a fix to the RVP regulation could allow for year-round sales of E15 and alleviate price pressure on the RIN market.
At the end of the meeting, Cruz pitched a proposal for a two-year RIN cap. However, ICGA was pleased to hear that the president expressed a great interest in E15 expansion, and even hinted at a possible meeting as early as the week of March 5 to learn more.
Corn growers ask Trump to not change RFS
At the Corn Congress meeting at the Commodity Classic on March 1, delegates unanimously approved a resolution that said the RFS has been a successful public policy for our nation’s energy security, the environment and rural America. It said the RINs component of the RFS is vital to the success of the RFS. RINS are the market mechanism that drives the blending of biofuels to obligated levels. Any cap or other manipulation of the RIN program would disrupt that mechanism and diminish the related incentive to blend biofuel with petroleum fuel, they said.
The resolution also said farmers across the country are facing historically low crop prices and the farm economy is truly suffering. The resolution ended by stating, “Therefore, we, the assembled voting delegates, do ask President Trump to retain the current RIN system without change.”
Policies NCGA should take to support Iowa farmers
A key task for ICGA at the Commodity Classic was speaking in support of policies and actions that the NCGA should promote to benefit Iowa’s farmers. "In Iowa, the policy process starts with the grassroots farmer-members from across the state through our membership survey and at our local roundtable meetings. The resolutions then move to the ICGA Grassroots Summit, and now onto national policy development during NCGA’s Corn Congress at Commodity Classic," Recker said. "This week, Iowa corn farmers brought their actions and policy positions that matter back at home in Iowa to the national platform.”
Iowa resolutions passed by the NCGA delegate body include:
• Support continued compliance with the refuge requirement for raising biotech insect protected corn.
• Support non-discriminatory labeling requirements of agricultural and food products directed by USDA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
• Support the expedited renewal of negotiations bilaterally or multilaterally with the Pacific rim countries based on the framework established in Trans Pacific Partnership.
• Support rotational grazing of CRP as a mid-contract management practice with a 50% reduction in the payment for the year it is grazed for management purposes.
“ICGA delegates presented resolutions and in turn voted on these and other resolutions and policies brought forward by NCGA and other states,” says Recker. “These policy positions set the framework for our federal legislative efforts and directly influence our direction for years to come.”
The new NCGA policy document will be posted at iowacorn.org/policy when it becomes available. For more information on upcoming policy development meetings in your area, contact the Iowa Corn office at 515-225-9242 or email at [email protected].
Source: Iowa Corn Growers Association