The Senate Republicans coronavirus economic relief package unveiled this week includes $20 billion in relief to be used by USDA in addition to the $14 billion in funding the previously enacted CARES Act, which marks the next step toward supplying much needed assistance to the renewable fuels sector. While American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings believes ethanol producers are considered to be “processors” described in the legislation, he urged more specific language.
“We are grateful Senate leaders have responded to our request for economic relief to biofuel producers in the phase four stimulus, however, Congress gave USDA the flexibility to provide relief for renewable fuel producers in the last package and USDA declined to exercise it. While Senator McConnell’s bill is more specific about processors of ag commodities, it still leaves discretion to USDA which has so far failed to use the authority to support our industry,” said Jennings.
ACE supports inclusion of the Grassley-Klobuchar bill which makes direct assistance certain. “We will continue to urge for more specific language in the final bill,” said Jennings. Fortunately, momentum appears to be in our favor since both the House-passed Heroes Act and Senate proposal contain relief provisions. “Now we need to ensure the legislative details are correct as there should be no reason direct assistance for ethanol producers doesn’t make it in the final phase four bill.”