This evening, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a $19 billion aid program. While the package will help the nation’s farmers and ranchers, it does not provide any assistance to America’s ethanol industry, which has been devastated by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The following is a statement from Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper:
“While we appreciate that USDA’s new program provides needed assistance to the nation’s farmers and ranchers, it is unfortunate and disappointing that the 350,000 workers supported by America’s ethanol industry were left behind.
“USDA missed a crucial opportunity to lend a helping hand to an industry that is suffering the worst economic crisis in its history. Roughly half of the ethanol industry is shut down today, as fuel demand has collapsed in response to COVID-19. Corn demand and prices have plummeted as plants across the country are idling. Jobs are being lost, grain markets are being ravaged, rural communities are being destabilized, and the long-term future of homegrown renewable fuels hangs in the balance. But even in the face of tremendous adversity, ethanol producers have stepped forward to help in the battle against coronavirus by ramping up production of high-purity alcohol for hand sanitizer and continuing to supply animal feed and captured carbon dioxide to the food supply chain.
“While today’s package is a start, more assistance will be required to help the farm sector and rural America fully recover from the devastating effects of this pandemic; we implore Congress and the administration to ensure that the ethanol industry is included in the next round of emergency relief. With each passing day, the nation’s renewable fuels sector edges closer to the brink of complete collapse. The ethanol industry needs help. We simply cannot afford to lose an industry that has become part of the fabric of rural America.”