Censky discusses infrastructure grant program at IRFA Summit

By Matt Thompson | January 16, 2020

Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Stephen Censky told attendees of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit Thursday that “there are some really positive things that are happening that are going to be great for the biofuels sector.”

One of those positive things was the infrastructure grant program, which was announced late last year in conjunction with the 2020 Renewable Volume Obligations and related rule making.

Censky said that today the Department of Agriculture announced a request for information regarding the infrastructure program. “We’re seeking input from the industry on how we can best implement that program,” he said. He added that the program will be started later this year. “We think that that is needed to move forward with the industry, and I think that’s going to be very positive,” he said.

Censky also discussed trade and applauded the signing of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement. “It really helps add to the certainty in the trade environment and really helps move us forward,” he said. He also expressed optimism for the phase one trade deal with China. He said China has committed to purchase $36.5 billion dollars of agricultural products this year, and $43.5 billion the following year. “To put that in perspective, in 2017 China was our No. 1 market in the world for U.S. agricultural products and we exported $24 billion worth of agricultural products to China.” He added that the Department of Agriculture will work to make sure the agreed-upon volumes are met. “We’re going to be monitoring these purchases very closely and holding their feet to the fire,” he said.

Following his speech, Censky took questions from the audience, many of which focused on small refinery exemptions and transparency in how the exemptions are decided and which refiners are receiving them. He said that information about why individual exemptions were granted will likely continue to be protected, but there will be more information about which refiners actually received the exemptions.