AGRICULTURE

Ag tour designed to drum up support for fight of RFS reductions

ff_admin
Farm Forum

Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson addressed a sympathetic audience on Jan. 13 in Fergus Falls, Minn., as part of a state tour supporting biofuel energy, namely ethanol.

More than 20 people, including area farmers and politicians, packed a conference room at the Green Plains Otter Tail plant on the morning of Jan. 13 to hear Frederickson address what he sees as the negatives of a proposed Environmental Protection Agency plan to lower the national Renewable Fuel Standard.

The RFS is the amount of renewable fuel that must be found in all transportation fuel sold in the United States. In a draft rule released in November, the EPA said it would require about 15 billion gallons of renewable fuels to be used for transportation in 2014, as opposed to the roughly 18 billion gallons set in the 2007 legislation that introduced RFS requirements.

Frederickson said his department has seen plenty of opposition to the proposed changes.

“We think we have a chance to reverse this whole idea,” he said.

Several farmers in attendance voiced displeasure at what they saw as an extreme shift if the changes were to be made. Having bought equipment and set up their operations with the understanding that renewable fuels like ethanol would be used a certain way, they said it would hurt their businesses drastically if the RFS was lowered.

Rep. Bud Nornes said the best approach for these farmers to make their voices heard would be to write personal letters or make phone calls to the EPA.

“Whatever can be done to reverse this needs to be done,” Nornes said.

To that end, Frederickson and MDA Assistant Commissioner Charlie Poster handed out draft letters and envelopes to those in attendance, urging them to “step up to the plate.” Frederickson stressed that people should also write messages on the back of the letters about how the reductions would impact them.

“We would be proud if this rule was reversed and it was because of a flood of letters like this,” Poster said.

After their meeting in Fergus Falls, MDA officials also made stops in Morris and Benson, Minn., on Jan. 13 as part of the tour. The EPA is accepting written comment on the RFS proposal until Jan. 28.