Senators ask USDA to explain delay in COVID-19 aid for biofuels

By Erin Voegele | October 18, 2021

A group of eight senators sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Oct. 18 expressing concern that the biofuel sector has yet to receive any of the $700 million in COVID-19 relief announced by the agency in June. 

“As you know, we have been advocating for targeted relief for the biofuel industry since the onset of the pandemic and the demand collapse for ethanol, biodiesel, and other renewable fuels,” the senators wrote. “On June 15, 2021, we welcomed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announcement of $700 million in aid to biofuel producers as part of the USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. In your press release, you indicated that this assistance would be implemented within 60 days. It is simply unacceptable that it has been over 120 days since your announcement and biofuel producers are still waiting.”

The senators stress that the pandemic is continuing to negatively impact biofuel producers. “As feedstocks have experienced historic highs, margins to produce biofuel have risen, and many plants remain offline or are operating at reduced rates,” they continued. “With President Biden’s plan to decarbonize the transportation and agriculture sectors, we remind you of the important role of biofuel. It is past time our hardworking biofuel producers receive the critical aid that you promised.”

The letter is signed by Sens. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Jerry Moran, R-Kan.; Deb Fischer, R-Neb.; M. Michael Rounds, R-S.D.; Roger Marshall, R-Kan.; Ben Sasse, R-Neb.; and John Thune, R-S.D.

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