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The EPA and ethanol

PRINCETON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced the proposal to decrease the amount of corn-based ethanol required to be used in 2014 for gasoline manufacturers and retailers.

The decision brings a lot of frustration for area farmers and came as a surprise for local farmers like Greg Steele of rural Princeton.

After hearing the EPA’s announcement, Steele made the comment that the acronym for EPA, in his opinion, stands for “ending production agriculture.”

He explained with all the political pressures in government, as well as politicians’ focus on getting votes, ultimately takes a toll on these types of mandates. The decision involves so many aspects of government that it puts tremendous pressure to make things change, he said.

Steele said with the several special interest groups for soybeans, livestock, wheat and corn, there are a lot of problems with each group, and not everyone is committed to solving the same issue.

“It’s very competitive,” he said. “We’ve got to find a balance.”

In a press release issued by the Illinois Corn Growers Association (ICGA), President Paul Taylor called the announcement a significant hit for family farmers.

“Corn prices are already below the cost of production, and this announcement will cause corn prices to drop even further,” he said. “Family farmers will have to borrow money to cover their family’s living expenses as a result of this announcement, while ‘Big Oil’ realizes massive profits yet again.”

Taylor, who is also a family farmer based in Esmond, said the announcement to reduce corn-based ethanol requirements is a signal to the renewable fuels industry that America isn’t interested in any further investments.

“How will we encourage automakers to continue building flex fuel vehicles and letting Americans choose a renewable fuel, when the EPA is telling us that domestic renewable fuel is not a priority?” he said.

According to Taylor, corn farmers supplied corn for a 13.8 billion-gallon ethanol industry last year.

“We can certainly supply corn for a 14.4 billion-gallon ethanol industry this year when we are seeing record yields. This proposed rule makes no sense,” he said.

Illinois farmers have the opportunity to provide their comments to the EPA proposal.

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