Ethanol, Ag Groups Respond To Latest Attack On Ethanol In Congress

  • Friday, 27 March 2015 00:00

A proposal by a group of U.S. House Representatives to stop the U.S. Department of Agriculture funding for blender pumps and promoting ethanol exports has been labeled as a measure to "strenghten the death grip on the U.S. ethanol industry" by ethanol and ag groups.

The group led by Representatives Bob Goodlatte, Peter Welch and Jim Costa made the proposal in a letter March 23 to the House Subcommittee working on the Fiscal Year 2016 Agriculture, Rural Development FDA and Related Programs Appropriations bill.

If their names sound familiar to you, it's because they proposed a bill in February to eliminate corn ethanol from the RFS. Perhaps that bill doesn't have much chance of passing and so they've reverted to this plan instead (if there ever was an example of a waste of tax dollars, it's this).

On March 26, the RFA, ACE, Growth Energy, National Farmers Union and the National Corn Growers Association voiced their opposition to the ludicrous proposal via a letter to the chair and ranking member of the House Subcommittee in charge of the aforementioned bill.  

Among the points highlighted in the letter include:

"It is important to note at the outset that there already exists a prohibition on the US Department of Agriculture using grant funds for the installation of blender pumps, which was included in the recently passed Farm Bill. Now, in a blatant effort to shelter the oil and gas industry from any further competition from ethanol, Representatives Goodlatte, et al. are seeking to place limitations on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s efforts to help promote the consumption of American made ethanol at home and abroad; something that agency has been successfully doing with other agriculture and livestock products for decades."

Indeed, since there already is a prohibition on funding for blender pumps, what exactly is the point of the proposal from Goodlatte, Welch and Costa?

The letter adds:

"Not satisfied with its efforts to protect Big Oil’s control over the domestic fuel market, the Goodlatte letter seeks to strengthen the death grip on the U.S. ethanol industry by also prohibiting the USDA from expending any trade promotion resources for ethanol exports. For the U.S. ethanol industry, exports have provided a valuable market for surplus ethanol. As the industry continues to struggle to expand the number of gasoline stations offering E15 and E85 and thereby overcome the domestic “blend wall”erected by oil refiners, it has been the export market that has helped the U.S. ethanol industry continue to grow, innovate and stay competitive in the face of an artificially constrained market at home."

You can read the rest of the letter here.

It truly seems odd these representatives would attack the ethanol export industry considering that their main goal is to see it eliminated domestically. Then again, logic (or basic math) clearly doesn't apply with this trio. Among the blatant falsehoods they propogate in their aforementioned letter is that "over 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop will be used for ethanol production."

The latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report by the USDA (dated March 10) shows that corn to be used for ethanol in the current marketing year will total 5.25 billion bushels while total supply will be 15.47 billion bushels. This in turn means 33.9 percent of the total crop output will be used for ethanol, not over 40 percent as claimed by the congressmen.

But as we've pointed on countless occassions - and one would think these congressmen would understand this by now - 10 lbs of a 56 bushel of corn that is used for ethanol is returned as dried distillers grain (DDGs), which is a high protein animal feed. As such, the actual amount used for ethanol is 67 percent of a bushel, which in turn means the corn used for ethanol this year would be 3.51 billion bushels or 22 percent of the total corn supply.

Still, we're getting ahead of ourselves here. We're assuming facts actually matter to these congressmen.