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Lack of Strong RFS Policy Could Put Michigan Jobs at Risk

Farmers Advance

October 21, 2015

Jeff Sandborn, a Portland farmer and member of the board of the National Corn Growers Association, highlighted a new nationwide study demonstrating the economic impact of ethanol production, noting that ethanol is tied to more than 22,000 Michigan jobs. The study was released by the National Corn Growers Association and National Farmers Union and highlights the need for a strong Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) as net farm income and other agricultural economic indicators decline to their lowest level in years.

"It's an uncertain time in farm country, and today's report highlights the fact that without a strong Renewable Fuel Standard, we're needlessly putting good Michigan jobs on the line," said Sandborn. "Here in Michigan, more than 22,000 jobs are tied to ethanol production – something the EPA has to consider before giving in to big oil companies and reducing the RFS. Many of those jobs are in our rural communities, either on the farm or related to Michigan's agriculture sector.

Sandborn noted the consensus by nonpartisan analysts that the lack of a long-term commitment to biofuels through the Renewable Fuels Standard is increasing uncertainty in the agricultural economy. Current net farm income, projected at $58.3 billion for 2015, is down by more than 50 percent compared with the record $123.7 billion level in 2013 and is the lowest since 2006.

"Much of the economic growth we've seen in agriculture over the past several years has resulted from increased opportunities for corn farmers, and the RFS played a big role in those opportunities," Sandborn said. "At a time when corn prices are declining to multi-year lows and the agricultural economy is headed for a downturn, reducing America's commitment to biofuels would be a major blow for Michigan agriculture."

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed rolling back the RFS and reducing the amount of ethanol blended into the fuel supply. Hundreds of thousands of Americans opposed the reduction during a recent comment period. The EPA now has until November to make a final decision.

"As the EPA makes a final decision, the choice is clear – we can cave to big oil at the expense of rural Michigan workers and families, or we can renew America's commitment to a clean-burning fuel that saves money, creates jobs and reduces our reliance on foreign oil," Sandborn said.

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