House Biofuels Caucus requests pandemic relief for biofuels

By Erin Voegele | June 14, 2021

Members of the House Biofuels Caucus sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on June 9 urging the USDA to provide COVID-19 relief to biofuels producers under the agency’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers program.

Former President Donald Trump on Dec. 27, 2020, signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 into law. That bill, in part, provided for $11.2 billion in COVID-19 relief for agriculture. 

The USDA on March 24, 2021, provided guidance on how it intends to use a portion of those funds and announced its intent to provide pandemic relief to biofuel producers as part its USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers Initiative, which the agency said aims to distribute relief resources more equitably. As part of that announcement, the agency announced plans to dedicated at least $6 billion towards new programs.

The letter authored by the House Biofuels Caucus urges Vilsack to use a portion of that $6 billion in funds to assist the biofuels industry. “Specifically, we respectfully request that you implement direct, per-gallon payments for biorefineries that were in normal operation in the first quarter of 2020 and with 2019 production year as a benchmark for providing relief,” members of the caucus wrote. “For advanced biofuels producers who operated at a market loss, we request that you implement direct payments to applicants utilizing an average net return over total costs difference between the pre and post pandemic production.”

The letter also addresses the need for USDA to invest in biofuels infrastructure. Members of the caucus applaud the $18.4 million investments made through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Program in April and urge further investments through the HBIIP. “Increased investments in this program will serve to help stabilize demand and bolster the ability of producers to sell into the market while expanding domestic energy production,” members of the caucus wrote.

“We continue to advocate for proactive approaches that complement COVID relief efforts to help rebuild the industry, and investments offered through the HBIIP, as well as clear and consistent labeling of higher biofuel blends including E-15 and B-20 or higher, are key for rural America to move forward with confidence,” they continued. “As markets continue to rebound, it is now more important than ever to quickly provide support, and bolster efforts that increase the demand for biofuels at home and abroad.”

The letter is signed by Reps. Rodney Davis, R-Ill.; Angie Craig, D-Minn.; Dusty Johnson, R-S.D.; Adrian Smith, R-Neb.; Cindy Axne, D-Iowa; Mark Pocan, D-Wisc.; Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa; Darin LaHood, R-Ill.; Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa; Mike Bost, R-Ill.; Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa; Cheri Bustos, D-Ill.; Ron Kind, D-Wisc.; Tom Emmer, R-Minn.; Sam Graves, R-Mo.; Michelle Fischbach, R-Minn.; Don Bacon, R-Neb.; Ann Wagner, R-Mo.; Jim Hagedorn, R-Minn.; Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill.; James Baird, R-Ind.; and Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb.

A full copy of the letter can be downloaded from Davis’s website.