Illinois farmers discuss RFS, dicamba during Leaders to Washington

By Ashley Rice

Nearly 20 Illinois farmers traveled to Washington, D.C., to engage and advocate for policy during the Illinois Farm Bureau Leaders to Washington trip.

One day before Illinois farmers arrived, a new development in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was announced.

On March 9, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit approved requests for an extension of the deadline to file motions asking for a rehearing. In January, the court found EPA exceeded its authority in granting exemptions to three refineries from 2016 and 2018 RFS obligations. The new deadline for requesting a rehearing in the Tenth Circuit is March 24.

Leaders to Washington participants asked EPA not to appeal the court’s decision and emphasized the importance of ethanol to their operations.

“This winter we had a lot of wet corn in bins,” explained Mark Tuttle, IFB District 1 director. “If it didn’t make grade for feed or exports, it could go to ethanol plants. Without those ethanol plants, farmers could have to truck grain farther, sometimes hundreds of miles.”

Lee County Farm Bureau member Evan Quinn noted that farmers, especially those near rivers, will face transportation restrictions as locks and dams are closed for repair and maintenance.

The petitioners in the case, the Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, American Coalition for Ethanol and National Farmers Union, shared their concerns:

“We are very disappointed … as all initial indications suggested EPA would not appeal the ruling and would correctly apply the decision nationally. This delay just prolongs uncertainty in the marketplace and stokes more angst and frustration in farm country.”

Illinois farmers also discussed their experiences with dicamba. Randy Aberle of Ford-Iroquois Farm Bureau member expanded on the importance of dicamba to his farm. “We’ve had small instances of drift, but overall, no problems with neighbors,” said Aberle. “It’s a very good tool, and we want to be able to keep it.”

Aberle noted his farm was part of the initial development team for dicamba.

Kendall Browning of Franklin County noted his farm does not use dicamba but has previously been injured by it. Browning foresees having to use the product in the future.

The attendees also reiterated their appreciation to the EPA for putting “common sense” in the new Navigable Waters Protection rule. EPA staff emphasized their desire to hear from individuals and organizations during their comment periods in the federal docket.

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