ACE 10th Fly-in Conquers the Hill in the Snow

Cindy Zimmerman

Neither snow nor rain kept the American Coalition for Ethanol fly-in teams from completing their appointed rounds last week on Capitol Hill. While the federal government was shut down for the snow, Congress was still open and surprisingly few pre-arranged meetings were cancelled. ACE members were even able to sit down with several members of Congress, including Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE) and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), and the entire group heard from Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA).

ACE Fly-in participants Rick Schwarck, Dave Sovereign, and Jerry Calease

This event has been getting real people from all segments of the ethanol industry into Congressional offices for a decade now, and several ACE members have attended every year. Among them is Dave Sovereign who serves as vice president for the organization and is a farmer who sits on the board of two ethanol plants and owns part of a retail fuel outlet. “We’re here to bring the entire picture together,” said Sovereign. “If it’s good for farmers, it’s good for the local community, it’s good for the state, and it’s good for the entire nation.”

Rick Schwarck of Absolute Energy has also attended all ten years. “Bringing this grassroots effort to Washington D.C. pays dividends,” Schwarck said. “We’re not just going to see our friends. We’re visiting with folks from oil producing states and others.” Schwarck was one of the industry representatives chosen to meet with the president earlier this month to explain why a waiver to allow 15% ethanol to be sold year round will bring down the price of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs).

The early Spring snowfall in D.C. last week was probably the worst weather the fly-in has seen in ten years, but Jerry Calease of Golden Grain Energy says it was nothing to most of the attendees. “Growing up in Iowa, and I was with a team from Minnesota, and we know what 4 or 6 inches of snow is, so that was no big deal,” he said.

Listen to interviews with Dave, Rick and Jerry below:

Interview with Dave Sovereign, Golden Grain Energy

Interview with Rick Schwarck, Absolute Energy

Interview with Jerry Calease, Golden Grain Energy

2018 ACE DC Fly-in Photo Album

ACE, Audio, Ethanol, Ethanol News

Ethanol on China’s Draft Retaliation List

Cindy Zimmerman

Following action by President Trump yesterday to impose tariffs on up to $60 billion in Chinese imports, China is making its list of what U.S. products will be the target of retaliation. The list reportedly includes agricultural products such as U.S. pork, modified ethanol, wine, fruits and nuts, and soybeans are expected to be as well.

“We’re disappointed that China is seeking additional tariffs on U.S. ethanol exports,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said. “These actions could undercut our potential to increase exports to China following the country’s stated goal to move to a 10 percent ethanol blend by 2020, and would be a major barrier to increased trade.”

Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen says they expected ethanol would be on the list. “China’s response was entirely predictable, given recent actions by our administration to implement new tariffs. It is my fervent hope that the White House now fully understands the impact these actions will have on America’s ethanol industry and farmers, and we urge the administration to redouble its efforts to expand demand for ethanol here at home.”

China was the third-largest market for U.S. ethanol exports in 2016, accounting for almost 20% of total exports, but Dinneen says the country imposed a 30% tariff on U.S. ethanol last year, bringing sales down to almost nothing until recently when they have started to tick back up despite the tariff. “But a 15% additional tariff, on top of the 30 percent that’s already there will clearly prohibit any sales to that country,” Dinneen says.

Audio file – RFA CEO Bob Dinneen reacts to potential China retaliation tariffs

Audio, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Exports, International, Trade

No 2018 Tax Credit for Biodiesel

Cindy Zimmerman

The omnibus spending bill agreed to in Congress to fund the government leaves the biodiesel industry in the lurch again by failing to include a reinstatement of the biodiesel tax credit.

“The lack of urgency by Congress to extend this expired tax credit continues to frustrate the producers, blenders and marketers of biodiesel,” said Kurt Kovarik, vice president of federal affairs for the National Biodiesel Board (NBB). “We will work to educate members of the economic and environmental benefits of increased use of biodiesel, so that Congress is poised to drive investments in this American energy industry.”

Last month, Congress passed a retroactive extension of the biodiesel tax incentive for 2017 only. But producers continue to operate in 2018 without a tax credit, as they have for the past several years, waiting for a retroactive extension. NBB has engaged in aggressive legislative outreach on this issue, participating in a recent Congressional hearing on the issue and sending multiple letters to Congressional leaders making the case for renewal of the biodiesel tax incentive so the industry can operate with more certainty going forward.

Biodiesel, NBB

Sen. Ernst Visits ACE Ethanol Champions

Cindy Zimmerman

Senator Joni Ernst has earned the title of “ethanol champion” for her work on behalf of the industry to protect the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), but she took the time today to visit with people she thinks are the real champions – the grassroots farmers, producers, retailers and investors who make up the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE).

“You are all out there making a difference,” said Sen. Ernst in her address to ACE members in Washington DC.

Her main remarks centered around the continuing debate over the RFS and Renewable Identification Number prices and her own discussions with Sen. Ted Cruz and others on the idea of a “win-win” solution for both ethanol and refiners. “Their ‘win-win’ is to cap RINs. That’s not a win for us,” said Ernst. “For us the “win-win” is the RVP waiver and going to E-15 year-round….The president thought that was a brilliant idea.”

During an interview, Sen. Ernst says she believes the White House is “backing away” from the RIN cap idea and leaning toward sending the whole issue to Congress to resolve. “We have had a strong coalition in Congress as well that pushes back against any efforts to weaken the RFS,” she said.

Listen to her remarks and my interview below:

Sen. Joni Ernst remarks to ACE

Interview with Sen. Joni Ernst

2018 ACE DC Fly-in Photo Album

ACE, Audio, Ethanol, Ethanol News

Sen. Heitkamp Opposes RIN Price Cap

cindy zimmerman

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) is one of several lawmakers on Capitol Hill who received a visit from a team of American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) members in DC for their annual fly-in, and she was overjoyed to be presented with one of the organization’s special corn kernel cracking display for her office.

Sen. Heitkamp is obviously a friend of ethanol, speaking out this week against the idea of a cap on Renewable Identification Number (RIN) prices. “If the administration takes this action, it would undercut our farmers and biofuel producers at a time we should be bolstering our renewable fuel industry – not sabotaging it,” Heitkamp said. “While I’ve long pushed for the year-round sale of E15 to support biofuels, the artificial RIN cap reportedly being considered by the administration could tank biofuel prices and cost North Dakota jobs. We must keep fighting for our rural communities and farmers, and I urge the administration to reject a RIN price cap.”

Listen to the senator explain why a RIN cap is a bad deal:
Interview with Sen. Heidi Heitkamp

2018 ACE DC Fly-in Photo Album

ACE, AgWired Energy, Audio, Ethanol, Government

ACE Fly-in Takes Off Despite Bad Weather

Cindy Zimmerman

Nearly all of the members registered to attend the 10th annual American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Fly-in are here and ready to hit The Hill in D.C. despite very inclement weather that has shut down the government.

ACE CEO Brian Jennings says this year is the most critical for the industry in all the ten years they have been coming to Washington D.C. to talk ethanol with lawmakers and they have a pretty direct message. “Don’t mess with the RFS, and call the president and call EPA and tell them we do not want any damage done to the RFS,” Jennings said.

He says the whole RIN price issue is so fluid at this point, it is hard to know what is happening from day to day. “It’s a challenge to get ready for an event like this when things are changing so rapidly.”

ACE members already heard this morning from Bill Wehrum, EPA Assistant Administrator for Air & Radiation, who was gracious enough to brave the weather and answer some tough questions.

Listen to my interview with Brian here:
Interview with Brian Jennings, ACE CEO

2018 ACE DC Fly-in Photo Album

ACE, Audio, Ethanol, Ethanol News

Sec. Perdue Comments on RFS and RINS

Cindy Zimmerman

Not much was said publicly during National Ag Day on Tuesday about the continuing RFS/RIN price dispute which is still being discussed at the very highest levels of government. But Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue did give an update during his remarks at the National Press Club Ag Day event.

“We’ve been in fairly intense discussions about the solution,” said Perdue. “The president has been involved in those and his commitment to the corn producers, biodiesel, biofuels industry is still solid.”

However, Perdue says the president has to consider the allegations of job loss in the refinery sector so the challenge is to reduce the Renewable Identification Numbers without hurting the renewable fuel volume,” he said. “We are hoping that we can resolve it where we will not see RINs capped.”

Perdue noted that when the RINs issue first started in October, the RIN price was 98 cents. “They were 38 as of last Friday so the conversation itself has already been helpful in driving RIN prices down.”

Reports were circulating that Perdue was going to meet Tuesday with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to discuss options to present to the president.

Listen to Perdue’s comments on RINs here: Secy Perdue comments on RFS/RIN price issue

2018 National Ag Day Photo Album

Audio, Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFS, RINS, USDA

Ethanol Helps Celebrate National Ag Day

Cindy Zimmerman

The CEOs of Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) were among the distinguished industry guests who attended the USDA National Agriculture Day Proclamation ceremony Tuesday with remarks from Vice President Mike Pence.

“The United States produces an abundance of food, feed and fuel, benefiting not only our nation, but the entire world,” said Pence in his remarks.

“Growth Energy is pleased to join the chorus of voices thanking America’s farmers for their contributions to our economy on National Agriculture Day,” Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said. “There has never been a more important time to reinforce rural America’s role in producing clean energy. Biofuels provide a vital growth market for America’s vast agricultural output.”

“American farmers are the foundation for the renewable fuels industry, producing a robust sustainable feedstock used to create clean, green, homegrown biofuels,” said RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen. “American farmers are the foundation for the renewable fuels industry, producing a robust sustainable feedstock used to create clean, green, homegrown biofuels.”

Dinneen and Skor both say talks about still on-going with the administration to find a solution to the issue of RIN prices but both say they are just not sure how it will shake out at this point.

2018 National Ag Day Photo Album

Ethanol, Ethanol News, Growth Energy, RFS, RINS

President Proclaims National Ag Day

chuck zimmerman

This morning U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, along with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, presented a proclamation signed by President Trump naming the first day of spring National Ag Day. Cindy was attending and will have more to add later today. The photo is courtesy of @SecretarySonny‘s Twitter account! Also pictured with the proclamation is Spencer Flood, Minnesota FFA.

This year marks the second year that the administration has publicly recognized the first day of spring as National Ag Day as a salute to the contributions of America’s farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses.

In his remarks, Vice President Pence highlighted the critically important role America’s farmers and ranchers play in helping to feed, clothe and fuel not only 326 million people in the United States, but millions of people around the world. He applauded the tremendous output and resourcefulness of today’s farmers and ranchers, noting that one farmer today producers enough to feed 165 people, and that American’s spend far less for food compared to other countries – just 10 percent of their disposable income.

Listen here: /Pence_Ag_Day_Speech_3-20-18.mp3′>Vice President Mike Pence Ag Day Remarks

2018 National Ag Day Photo Album

Watch USDA’s abbreviated video of the proceedings:

Ag Day, AgWired Animal, AgWired Energy, AgWired Precision, Audio

Stand Off Over RFS and RIN Prices Continues

Cindy Zimmerman

The stalemate continues in Washington D.C. over what, if anything, should be done to lower Renewable Identification Number (RIN) prices designed to help oil refiners comply with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Late last week, Midwest Republican senators requested a meeting with President Trump as rumors continued to circulate that the administration might take action to cap RIN prices. And members of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) are heading to the Hill this week to discuss the issue with lawmakers, including Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) who will address the group on Thursday.

Speaking to members of the National Grain and Feed Association meeting in Arizona Monday, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said he has been working with “the corn producers, the Renewable Fuels Association, all the biodiesel people about what are some creative ideas we can do to help the president resolve this issue.” Perdue added that “we have to be careful we don’t do anything to create demand destruction for ethanol.”

The National Corn Growers Association has been running a major advertising campaign in the nation’s capital with the theme “Mr. President: Don’t Cap Our Future.” The effort, which has now been underway for more than a week, targets the White House, Congress, government Departments and Agencies and politically active individuals in and around Capitol Hill.

ACE, Biodiesel, Ethanol, Ethanol News, NCGA, RFA, RFS, RINS