A proposal to sharply reduce the requirement for biofuels use in the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) would eliminate thousĀ­ands of jobs in Iowa and other Midwestern states, drive down farm income, damage air quality and force consumers all over the country to pay more at the pump, Midwestern lawmakers, renewable fuels leaders and farmers said last week at a day-long hearing in Des Moines.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal could even trigger a return of the very difficult days of the 1980s farm crisis, warned biofuels backers.

"If this goes through, corn prices would drop below the cost of production, and it would ripple through our entire economy," said Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad. "I never want to return to those bad, old days."

Opportunities at risk

Kevin Stumpf, a fourth-generation farmer in Webster County, said the development of the ethanol industry over the past decade has created...