USDA Releases COVID Aid for Biofuels Producers

Cindy Zimmerman

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made good on the promise he made Friday and announced today that USDA will make up to $800 million available to support biofuel producers and infrastructure.

Today’s announcement includes $700 million to provide economic relief to biofuel producers and restore renewable fuel markets affected by the pandemic. The Department will make the funds available through the new Biofuel Producer Program authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Additionally, in the coming months, the Department will make $100 million available to increase significantly the sales and use of higher blends of bioethanol and biodiesel by expanding the infrastructure for renewable fuels derived from U.S. agricultural products. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to further growth of the biofuels industry, and the House-passed Build Back Better Act commits additional funding that will provide better market access for farmers and more affordable and cleaner fuels for consumers.

“At the peak of the pandemic, more than half of our nation’s ethanol capacity was idled. To this day, many plants remain offline or are operating at reduced output rates and the pandemic has cost the industry well over $5 billion in lost revenue. We are grateful to USDA Sec. Vilsack and the Biden administration for finalizing this relief package to help our industry recover, as well as the additional infrastructure funding,” said Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Geoff Cooper.

The announcement came in conjunction today with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposing a package of actions setting biofuels volumes for years 2022, 2021, and 2020, and introducing regulatory changes intended to enhance the program’s objectives. In addition, EPA is asking for public comment on a proposed decision to deny petitions to exempt small refineries from RFS program requirements.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, USDA