IFB member: 'EPA has aggressively eroded demand '

Steve Turner, former Cass County Farm Bureau president, hopes his sons will take over the family farm.

But he fears the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) will make it more difficult and less attractive for young people to get established in the family farm or get started in the industry.

Turner testified during EPA's hearing on the proposed supplemental rule for small refinery exemptions RFS.

Here's his testimony:

"My name is Steve Turner, I am part of a 3,200 acre cash grain-livestock family farm operation in Cass and Mason County Illinois. Our major crops grown are corn, popcorn, seed corn, soybeans, wheat, rye and alfalfa. I farm with my two sons that are trying to work and establish their way into the family farm operation in these very difficult economic times.

Actions like the EPA release of Supplemental Proposal of Renewable Fuel Volume will continue to hurt ethanol and lower corn prices and make agriculture economic times hard for young farmers trying to establish themselves.

Both sons are back home today trying to get harvest done while I set here today and sound off about this terrible proposal.

Recently, Marquis Energy, a very established ethanol company, came into west central Illinois and tried to build a 350 million gallon ethanol plant. A plant this size would have created 100 million bushel corn demand and had a very positive effect on corn basis and corn prices paid to local farmers. The plans have been canceled due to less ethanol demand.

EPA actions that curtail current and possible future ethanol production lower corn demand, lower corn prices and hurt the ag economy for all farmers especially young producers just getting started. 

Over the past year, as SREs piled up and more ethanol plants announced they were idling production, USDA has reduced its estimate for corn used in ethanol. In fact, corn used for ethanol production fell by 229 million bushels from the 2017/18 marketing year and is the lowest level since 2015/16 marketing year.

SREs are big. Over the past three years EPA has aggressively eroded demand by granting so called small refinery exemptions at a very alarming rate, totaling more than 4 billion gallons of ethanol. This has had a crippling effect on ethanol plants and an immediate negative impact on corn prices.

To ensure accurate accounting for SREs in 2020 and beyond, EPA must use the rolling average of actual SRE volumes from the three most recently completed compliance years.

In closing, let me again stress that let’s not lose sight to the negative affects EPA’s actions on SRE’s have had on corn prices and the recent proposal will not turn that around.

These negative effects on corn prices really make it very difficult for young people like my sons get a good start and establishment into farming."

Editors note: Turner is one of the Illinois Farm Bureau members who testified during last week’s RFS hearing. FarmWeekNow.com plans to feature additional testimonies. Read them here:

IFB Director: EPA proposal 'half-way measure at best.' Read more here.

IFB VP Duncan: 'Classic bait and switch' on RFS. Read more here.