Ag Policy Blog

Senators Want to Know What Happened to Promised Aid for Biofuel Producers

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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Biofuel plants reduced production or were idled during parts of 2020 because of declines in sales during COVID-19 lockdowns. USDA announced $700 million in aid back in June for biofuel producers, but has yet to provide program details for biofuel producers to enroll. (DTN file photo)

Eight Republican senators on Monday wrote Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack asking about why $700 million in announced aid to biofuel plants has not been sent out.

The senators included the delegations from Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota -- all of which are major biofuel-producing states.

Vilsack and USDA announced the $700 million in aid back on June 15 to help offset some of the market impacts from COVID-19 lockdowns back in spring 2020 that led to dramatic drops in fuel markets. Lawmakers wrote the aid into a funding bill last December to ensure USDA provide aid to biofuel producers.

USDA announced in June that the aid would go out to ethanol plants within 60 days. The GOP senators stated, "It is simply unacceptable that it has been over 120 days since your announcement and biofuel producers are still waiting."

Senators on the letter included Iowa Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley; Kansas Sens. Jerry Moran and Roger Marshall; Nebraska Sens. Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse; and South Dakota Sens. John Thune and Mike Rounds.

The senators stated the pandemic continues to hurt biofuel producers. Feedstock prices are higher and "many plants remain offline or are operating at reduced rates. With President Biden's plan to decarbonize the transportation and agriculture sectors, we remind you of the important role of biofuel. It is past time our hardworking biofuel producers receive the critical aid that you promised."

No details have been spelled out explaining the formula that would be used to pay biofuel producers.

DTN asked USDA's press office: what is the status of $700 million aid to biofuel producers that USDA announced in June? A spokeswoman for the department responded, "When we came into office, we took the initiative to review who had not received assistance from the previous administration and we made providing support to the biofuels industry a priority when they had received nothing in 2020. We will be accepting applications for this assistance soon."

The senators' letter comes just a few days before Vilsack will be holding events in Iowa with Mexico's agricultural minister.

Senators letter to Vilsack:…

Chris Clayton can be reached at

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