USDA officials met with biofuels industry as Perdue visited ND |

USDA officials met with biofuels industry as Perdue visited ND

-The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture Department Deputy Secretary Steve Censky and Chief Economist Rob Johansson met with biofuels industry leaders March 9, but an agreement on how to handle the conflict between the biofuels industry and the oil industry is not imminent, the Red River Farm Network, a North Dakota-based radio network, said Monday.

A White House meeting with biofuels and oil industry officials March 12 was canceled.

When The RRFN asked Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who was in Fargo, N.D., on Friday, if a compromise is possible, Perdue replied, "I've encouraged the ethanol industry, corn growers and others to engage."

He added, "They've been on the defensive for 10 years, and I understand it, but up until now, they've been kind of stonewalling. The president has an obligation to listen to all (sides), and people have told him they are losing jobs in the merchant refineries because of this. Whether it is true or not, we have to engage."

RRFN noted that the oil industry is upset with what is perceived as high costs for the Renewable Identification Number credits that are part of the Renewable Fuel Standard. In exchange for the year-round availability of 15 percent ethanol blends, a RIN cap has been proposed, but this concept has been a non-starter for the ethanol industry.

Perdue wants to find a positive solution. "There's not a solution that is probably going to make everybody totally happy on both sides, and that is the challenge as we go forward," he said.

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Biofuels was one of many subjects on which North Dakotans quizzed Perdue, according to a Bismarck Tribune report.