Underlying President Donald Trump's visit to Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Tuesday to celebrate the launch of year-round E15, was the continued concern about how small refinery waivers granted by the administration may be undermining the Renewable Fuel Standard.
Trump toured the Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy ethanol plant, talked to plant workers, farmers and others, prior to his speech. SIRE's Chief Executive Officer Mike Jerke and Renewable Fuels Association President and Chief Executive Officer Geoff Cooper led the president on the tour, answering his questions.
During a call with reporters on Wednesday, Jerke said the president was told about the market damage that farmers and ethanol producers believe waivers are inflicting.
"The president heard it and said he'd be looking into that," Jerke said.
During Trump's speech he called Iowa farmer Kevin Ross to the podium, where Ross reiterated concern about the waivers. Ross was among the farmers who met Trump during his 20-minute tour of the plant.
"In working with the White House it was clear there was a strong interest on the part of the president to interact with the ethanol industry," Jerke said.
"Trump wanted to know how the farmers were doing."
During the walk-through of the plant, Trump had a hands-on demonstration of the corn loading area. Jerke said the president was "very interested" in the distillers grains aspect of the plant.
"The president didn't know DDGs were such an important component of the plant," Cooper said.
"He also expressed interest in higher-level ethanol blends, and we talked about how Brazil is using 27% ethanol blends. Overall he was quite open-minded and engaged, and asked a lot of questions."
Todd Neeley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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