Grassley: Ethanol producers may have to depend on Perdue for aid

By Erin Voegele | July 29, 2020

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said on July 28 that he would like to see $3 billion of dedicated relief for ethanol included in a phase four COVID-19 relief package. Legislation released by the U.S. Senate this week, however, provides no dedicated relief for ethanol.

During a July 28 press call with reporters, Grassley said he’s had discussions with Vice President Mike Pence and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue over the past week regarding the need for COVID-19 relief for ethanol producers. “I’ve made very clear from my position with talking to these people that we’re talking about equity,” Grassley said, explaining that there needs to be equity between aid offered to oil companies and ethanol producers.

While Congress did not provide any aid to oil producers in the CARES Act, which was signed in late March, Grassley noted that the Trump Administration has provided approximately $3 billion in relief to the oil industry through purchases made for the strategic petroleum reserve. Grassley indicated there should be parity, with the government providing the same level of relief for the ethanol industry.

Grassley said he thinks the phase four COVID-19 relief package ought to include legislation he introduced in May in partnership with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa. That bill, titled the “Renewable Fuel Feedstock Reimbursement Act of 2020,” would require the USDA to reimburse biofuel producers for their feedstock purchases may Jan. 1 through March 31. The funding would come from the Commodity Credit Corp.

The phase four legislative package released by the U.S. Senate earlier this week contains no dedicated relief for ethanol producers. It does, however, provide the USDA with $20 million to support agriculture producers, growers, and processors impacted by COVID-19. Ethanol producers would be considered eligible entities for the program. The USDA would be given discretion regarding how to allocate that funding. “We are kind of in a position of depending on the Secretary of Agriculture—if this $20 billion goes to him—getting some for ethanol,” Grassley said.