Iowa’s Reynolds addresses RNC as Biden says Trump ‘sold out’ farmers on RFS
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds spoke to the Republican National Convention, praising President Donald Trump for providing aid to her state’s farmers to address a series of problems while Joe Biden, Trump’s Democratic opponent, said that Trump had “sold out” Iowa farmers on ethanol.
Reynolds, a Republican, said the Trump administration will provide aid after the destruction caused by the derecho windstorm two weeks ago, and has also provided help in other situations.
“Whether it’s providing needed relief to farmers who were the target of China’s unfair trade practices, hammering out new free — and fair — trade deals, or fighting for workers and small businesses who were hit hard by COVID-19, we have a president and an administration who gets things done,” Reynolds said.
But Reynolds did not mention the concern of the state’s biofuels producers about the president’s wavering on support for ethanol.
Meanwhile, taking on one of Trump’s greatest vulnerabilities in rural America, Biden issued a statement, saying “Instead of standing with those who till our land and sow our fields, we have a president who has sold out our farmers by undercutting the Renewable Fuel Standard with the granting of waivers to Big Oil.”
“Those waivers severely cut ethanol production, costing farmers income and ethanol plant workers their jobs,” Biden said.
“Now, President Trump refuses to announce the 2021 renewable fuel production levels until after the election, leaving farmers concerned of further cuts to production. The Renewable Fuel Standard marks our bond with our farmers and our commitment to a thriving rural economy. Donald Trump doesn’t respect that connection, and he’s thrown it away to the detriment of generations of producers across the Midwest and around the country — many of whom put their trust in him four years ago.”
“The Obama-Biden administration kept our word to farmers,” the former vice president continued, who is challenging Trump in the November election with running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.
“A Biden-Harris administration will promote and advance renewable energy, ethanol, and other biofuels to help rural America and our nation’s farmers, and will honor the critical role the renewable fuel industry plays in supporting the rural economy and the leadership role American agriculture will play in our fight against climate change.”
Farm and biofuels leaders have continually expressed disappointment in the willingness of Trump and the Environmental Protection Agency to consider small refinery exemptions to the RFS, as well as the EPA’’ slowness in announcing volumetric requirements under the RFS.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has said that Iowa farmers understand Trump’s decisions to impose tariffs on Chinese goods that led to retaliation against U.S. farm products, but that they cannot understand why he doesn’t stand with them on ethanol issues.
Agri-Pulse, which first reported the Biden statement, noted that “While Biden may be criticizing the Trump administration for an RVO delay, the Obama administration where he served as vice president once dealt with a much slower process and went years without announcing new volumes.”
“In 2015, the EPA announced three years of RVOs at once after failing to set blending targets the previous two years,” Agri-Pulse noted.
Tom Vilsack, who served as agriculture secretary in the Obama administration and is advising Biden, told Agri-Pulse, that “The Trump administration has failed to abide by the RFS, has granted waivers to large oil companies that don’t merit them, and has failed to provide additional assistance and help during the coronavirus pandemic to this industry.”
“‘I think there are steep concerns about precisely what they will do with the RVOs if they are allowed to essentially push them beyond the election,” said Vilsack, also a former governor of Iowa.
“The Biden/Harris administration will live up to the responsibilities of the RFS,” Vilsack pledged.
“They see this is a promise to the industry, and they understand and appreciate that what’s necessary is consistency and what’s necessary is stability and certainty. Right now, we don’t have that stability, we don’t have that certainty, we don’t have that consistency.”
Trump promised in Iowa last week that he would “speak” to EPA about the RFS.
But while the EPA’s indecision about ethanol hurts Trump in farm country, a coalition of oil refinery groups reminded Trump in a letter that oil-producing states expect him to support their views.
“We urge you to continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with small refineries in Arkansas, Utah, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Montana, Wyoming, Texas, West Virginia, Mississippi, Indiana, Louisiana, California, Alabama, Washington and Hawaii and protect our jobs and communities,” the refiners wrote. ❖
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