USDA provides aid for farmers, biofuel groups call for RVP relief

By Erin Voegele | July 24, 2018

The USDA has announced it will authorize up to $12 billion in aid to assist farmers who have been impacted by retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural goods. The ethanol industry also called on the Trump administration to provide Reid vapor pressure (RVP) relief for E15 as a way to aid the farm community.

The USDA made its announcement July 24, noting that President Trump directed Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue “to craft a short-term relief strategy to protect agricultural producers while the Administration works on free, fair, and reciprocal trade deals to open more markets in the long run to help American farmers compete globally.” The $12 billion in aid is in line with the estimated $11 billion impact of the retaliatory tariffs and is expected to assist agriculture producers to meet the costs of disrupted markets.

“This is a short-term solution to allow President Trump time to work on long-term trade deals to benefit agriculture and the entire U.S. economy,” Perdue said. “The president promised to have the back of every American farmer and rancher, and he knows the importance of keeping our rural economy strong. Unfortunately, America’s hard-working agricultural producers have been treated unfairly by China’s illegal trading practices and have taken a disproportionate hit when it comes illegal retaliatory tariffs. USDA will not stand by while our hard-working agricultural producers bear the brunt of unfriendly tariffs enacted by foreign nations. The programs we are announcing today help ensure our nation’s agriculture continues to feed the world and innovate to meet the demand.”

Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, expressed appreciation for the USDA’s actions, but also called on the administration to recognize the benefit of providing RVP relief. "We appreciate the administration's actions to help farmers who are indeed suffering as a result of recent trade disputes,” he said. “Farmers are the backbone of this country who provide feed, food and fuel to consumers across our nation.

“We hope as the administration explores trade mitigation options, they will also recognize the benefit of providing RVP relief,” Dinneen continued. “The ethanol industry is an important value-added market for corn growers and with another record crop on the horizon, any chance to create additional market opportunities will help. Market opportunities such as year-round access to 15 percent ethanol (E15) would be a step in the right direction. This would increase demand for higher level ethanol blends, stimulating more growth in rural America, and helping to counteract the prohibitive tariff and non-tariff trade barriers that China and other countries have placed on American agricultural products. We look forward to working with the administration to ensure free trade for all consumers across the globe.”

Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy, also called on the Trump administration to recognize the value of RVP relief. “Once again, this administration has missed an opportunity to provide long-term relief to farmers by increasing domestic demand through RVP relief,” she said. “Allowing year-round sales of higher blend fuels such as E15 is one way to address sales lost because of new tariffs and provide increased certainty for farmers and producers. We will continue encouraging the President and his administration to uphold his promise of supporting farmers and rural Americans by following through on allowing the year-round sale of higher blend fuels."