It was an impromptu event — meant to precede a White House meeting that was scheduled for Monday, March 12.


This past Saturday, those at the “RFS (Renewable Fuel Standards) Rally against the Ted Cruz Oil Refinery Bailout” were told that even though Monday’s White House meeting had been cancelled, there was still reason for Iowa farmers and ethanol supporters to gather together and make their voices heard.


“We need President Trump to hear from you. He’s heard from Ted Cruz. Now he needs to hear from rural America,” said POET Biorefining - Coon Rapids General Manager Bill Howell, one of seven people to speak at the rally. “We heard the president campaign here in Iowa and elsewhere, promising he would preserve the Renewable Fuel Standard and stand with farmers. This is his opportunity to do just that.”


Mark Recker, president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, had the same sort of message. Standing before the 170-plus people in attendance, he said no one can underestimate how important is to speak out against this push by Senator Cruz to put stipulations on ethanol production. “Whenever there’s a call to action, corn farmers step up,” he said, adding that this might be the most critical issue farmers have faced in a long time.


The rally, hosted by Bill Couser, and his son Tim, at one of the family’s heated farm buildings north of Nevada, brought in ethanol and corn industry officials, as well as farmers, from around the state and Story County. Those attending were asked to sign a letter — one that urges the protection of the biofuels industry from the interests of “big oil” — which will be given to President Trump.


Howell said the entire point of Saturday’s rally was to gather to support renewable fuels in the face of another challenge to the industry. There are, he said, “forces in Washington … determined to undercut the biofuels,” which he said are important in keeping Iowa and its farmers running. “Folks in Washington forget that American-made biofuels play a pivotal role in our economy. Biofuels support jobs and wages in rural communities. Biofuels grow domestic and international markets for ag commodities. Biofuels lift grain prices. In fact, for lots of farmers, biofuels can sometimes make the difference between breaking even and going bust.”


Howell said farmers and politicians can little ignore that they are seeing the deepest reduction in farm income since the Great Depression. He expressed his concern about what he said is a “false narrative” by Cruz in Washington, D.C., which could break the president’s commitment to Iowa’s renewable fuels industry.


Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) executive director Monte Shaw and Iowa Biodiesel board executive director Grant Kimberley held a joint press conference last Friday about a just-revealed oil industry study, showing that Renewable Fuel Standard waiver credits (sometimes referred to as a RIN price cap) would decimate current demand for biofuels. Cruz has called for the caps, even though oil companies are posting record profits while agriculture struggles.


Kimberley said last Friday, “According to this analysis, capping the price of conventional ethanol RINS would lead to a reduction of up to 300 million gallons in biomass-based diesel volumes each year. That happens to be almost exactly what the state of Iowa’s entire biodiesel industry produced last year. It would also lead to $185 million more in feed costs for livestock producers — likely leading to an increase in food costs for consumers; and 16 cents less per bushel of soybeans.” Facts like these were reiterated by those who spoke Saturday.


At the rally, Iowa Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix (who resigned his Senate position Monday) urged those who are speaking out in support of biofuels to continue to make their voices heard. He said biofuels have helped diversify fuels across the state and the country. He also noted that biofuels support many jobs. According to the IRFA, there are 64,000 biodiesel jobs in America, as well as 2 million farmers who rely on ethanol production for their corn.


Also speaking at the rally was local Nevadan Charlie Good, owner of Good and Quick, where biofuels are sold, and Rick Schwarck, CEO of Absolute Energy LLC. Good and Schwarck recently traveled to Washington, D.C., and spoke directly to the president in a meeting about these matters. They described that meeting as “tense,” basically with Cruz on one side and people who “get their fingernails dirty” in biofuels, plus Iowa Senators Jodi Ernst and Chuck Grassley, on the other. Good and Schwarck agreed that Grassley and Ernst are doing a “phenomenal job” of representing their constituents on these matters. Good and Schwarck are hopeful that one outcome of the meeting will be the ability to sell E15 year-round, rather than the current ability to sell it just eight-and-a-half months a year, another measure that will help renewable energy.


The last speaker of the day, Grant Menke, policy director for IRFA, said, “We cannot take our foot off the gas … Keep the fight … Keep the pressure on President Trump.”


For those interested, this is a link to the live taping of this rally online at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTqQr-hFaGU&feature=youtu.be.


Lincolnway Energy official signs


Eric Hakmiller, of Lincolnway Energy in Nevada, is among 150 biofuel production centers managers across the heartland to sign a letter urging the White House to stand strong in defense of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).


The letter directly addresses the campaign waged by Texas Senator Ted Cruz to “cut, cap or eliminate” the market for U.S. biofuels manufactured from renewable farm crops.


Key Cooperative joins as E15 seller


Key Cooperative in Nevada is among 12 stations that have decided to sell E15 in 2018. The addition of the 12 newest sales sites brings E15 stations in Iowa to a total of 158.


“This time a year ago, Iowa didn’t even have 100 E15 stations,” said Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Managing Director Lucy Norton. “It is remarkable to watch this cleaner, higher-performing fuel gain momentum and support among drivers and retailers. Americans have already driven over three billion trouble-free miles on E-15.