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Reducing the RFS, bad for the environment and economy, farmers tell EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency must protect the Renewable Fuel Standard as Congress originally defined it nearly a decade ago, Iowa farmer Randy Caviness told the EPA at a public hearing today. He testified on behalf of Iowa Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“EPA’s decision not to follow the intent of Congress in the 2007 RFS is highly disappointing to all of agriculture,” said Caviness, who also serves as a member of AFBF Issue’s Advisory Committee on Energy. “This decision strikes a blow to conventional ethanol production and dampens the prospects for the further development of advanced biofuels.” 

Caviness is a firm believer in clean energy, and his farm is proof of it. He has farmed for 28 years without energy-intensive tilling and leads initiatives to install wind turbines in his home county of Adair and neighboring Cass County.

Caviness told EPA that renewable fuels are an American success story and critical to keeping our nation moving forward in reducing dependence on foreign oil and providing well-paying jobs in rural America. EPA’s proposal to reduce the RFS would hurt agriculture and rural economies at a time when farmers are already struggling with a down-turned economy. 

“Our nation’s farmers can grow more bushels of corn and soybeans on fewer acres to feed and fuel the world,” Caviness said. “But if these reduced volumes are finalized, this decision will stall growth and progress in renewable fuels as well as the broader agricultural economy.”

Complete Transcript of Randy Caviness' Testimony to the EPA

Good morning, my name is Randy Caviness from Greenfield, Iowa. I am here today presenting testimony on behalf of both the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation as well as the American Farm Bureau Federation. Thank you for the opportunity to testify today to help provide agriculture’s perspective on this proposed rule.

I’m owner of Senivac Farms, a family run diversified operation growing 4,000 acres of corn and soybeans – and I’m also part owner and manager of a community owned commercial wind production facility. I’ve been farming for 39 years and have always been on the leading edge of new practices and innovations in agriculture that not only improve my operation but also benefit the environment. I’ve been no-till farming continuously for the past 28 years and have lead initiatives to install ten commercial scale wind turbines in my home county of Adair and neighboring Cass County – producing over 62 million kilowatt hours of power annually. I’m a firm believer in clean energy, which improves rural economies and the environment, and that is why I’m a strong supporter of biofuels and the implementation of the Renewable Fuels Standard.

EPA’s decision to not follow the intent of Congress in the 2007 RFS is highly disappointing to all of agriculture. This decision strikes a blow to conventional ethanol production and dampens the prospects for the further development of advanced biofuels. In 2015 the U.S. produced 14.8 billion gallons of ethanol and 2.1 billion gallons of biodiesel. Iowa is the nation’s leader in renewable fuels production - with 43 ethanol refineries which produced 4 billion gallons of ethanol in 2015. This created a demand of 1 billion bushels of corn in our state alone. In addition, Iowa has 12 biodiesel facilities which produced 242 million gallons of biodiesel in 2015. Our nation’s farmers can grow more bushels of corn and soybeans on fewer acres to feed and fuel the world. At a time when commodity prices are below the cost of production, it is vitally important to follow the RFS law and the volume requirements passed by Congress.

Renewable fuels have been a tremendous success story for the nation and especially for the rural economy. The RFS has reduced our country’s dependence on foreign crude oil, reduced air pollution, increased farm incomes, and provided good paying jobs in rural America. Since the RFS was put in place in 2007, the U.S. has seen tremendous growth within the agricultural sector. If these reduced volumes are finalized, this decision will stall growth and progress in renewable fuels as well as the broader agricultural economy.

Furthermore, a reduction in the volume requirements would slow or halt investments in the infrastructure needed to distribute and dispense larger volumes of ethanol. This proposal would halt new investments in cellulosic biofuels and stifle a market that is still developing. Farm Bureau strongly urges EPA to stay the course with the RFS as defined in the 2007 law. Without question, this reduction in the RFS will have tremendous consequences for the agricultural sector, for our nation’s energy policy, and our nation’s air quality.

Thank you for your time today and I am more than happy to answer any questions you may have. 



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