LINCOLN, NEB. - The Nebraska Corn Board has received over 5,000 letters expressing opposition on the recent decision of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to cut back on the amount of corn ethanol in our nation's fuel supply. This would cut 1.4 billion gallons of ethanol in 2014 from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) passed by Congress.
In early January, the Nebraska Corn Board sent out letters to Nebraska farmers alerting them of EPA’s actions and included a letter to EPA that farmers could sign. These letters were returned to the Corn Board and the Board will forward the entire stack of letters to EPA before the comment period deadline of January 28. To date, just over 5,000 letters have been returned, many with personal messages expressing the need to keep a strong renewable fuel industry and stating corn farmers can provide enough food, feed and fuel to help America be less dependent on imported oil.
“This is the greatest grassroots response in the history of the corn checkoff program since its implementation in 1978,” said Don Hutchens, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board. Hutchens has been executive director since 1987 and a corn producer since the early 1970’s.
All the work and investment that Nebraska corn farmers have put into building the ethanol industry is at risk. EPA’s proposal, if put in place, would cause corn prices to drop, cut several thousand jobs, and could have a negative impact on rural communities that depend on a strong agricultural economy.
The Board also distributed nearly 10,000 postcards throughout Nebraska where the recipient was asked to write a personal message and drop it in the mail to EPA. Or they had the option of commenting online through a link provided by the Nebraska Corn Board’s website, www.nebraskacorn.org.
“The 5,000 letters from Nebraska, which will be sent to EPA Friday, will have a big impact on EPA,” said Tim Scheer, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board and farmer from St. Paul. “Other states have mounted similar efforts to send letters to EPA.” To date, Scheer said that over 4,000 letters are being sent in from Minnesota Corn and over 1,000 from Missouri Corn. Iowa Corn hosted a ‘Hearing in the Heartland Supporting the Renewable Fuels Standard’ spearheaded by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad where representatives from the Nebraska Corn Board testified. The National Corn Growers Association has organized efforts on a national level and has helped states with their grassroots efforts. The corn industry is working hard to make sure EPA hears from farmers.
The Nebraska Corn Board appreciates the support of our state’s political leaders on this effort. U.S. Senators Johanns and Fischer from Nebraska signed on to a Senate letter that was circulated and sent to the EPA. Governor Heineman joined five other governors in voicing concerns of the EPA proposal by signing a joint letter. And State Senator Dubas is currently leading an effort to get members of the Legislature to sign onto a letter to EPA as well.
“Nebraska farmers are well informed on this issue and with nearly 2 billion bushels of corn carryover stocks and prices that are near or below the cost of production, this issue is not only hitting their pocket books but has the potential to slow Nebraska’s economy,” said Hutchens. “I have never seen this kind of response in my 27 years, so obviously farmers feel strongly about the biofuels industry. The drought of 2012 seriously set our production back, but with new technologies, and a little help from Mother Nature, U.S. farmers are producing 14 billion bushels of corn that can meet food, feed, biofuels and export demand and still have plenty left over.”