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Corn farmers from Illinois, U.S. Senator Mark Kirk, and U.S. Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth joined hundreds of others today at a rally on Capitol Hill telling the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to follow Congress’ intent on the Renewable Fuel Standard.
“Here at the Rally for Rural America we’re basically giving the EPA one message and that is to leave the RFS alone,” explained Kenneth Hartman, Jr., a family farmer from Waterloo who serves as the Illinois Corn Growers Association President.
“We’re telling EPA hands off the RFS. It works,” Hartman added.
The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed cutting the RFS for corn ethanol by 3.75 billion gallons through 2016, which represents nearly 1.5 billion bushels in lost corn demand.
"Illinois farmers export more than a billion bushels of corn annually. That is why I supported them on trade and will continue to support them in the fight for a fair Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).
As Senator Kirk illustrated, the EPA’s proposed cuts would be the equivalent of Illinois corn farmers losing their entire export market. USDA forecasts the total cost of growing corn to total $674 per acre in 2015 and $682 per acre in 2016. For 2015, with an estimated yield of 166.8 bushels per acre, this puts the cost of production at $4.04 per bushel.
University of Illinois ag economists are estimating that for the average 1,500 acre grain farm in Central Illinois, net income is projected at just $7,450 in 2015, down some $96,000 from 2014. By reducing the RVO numbers and the associated corn demand by nearly one and a half billion bushels, the EPA proposal will negatively impact the price of corn, driving it below the cost of production, and driving farm income perilously low.
Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) said that the RFS is important from a national security perspective. “American investors and consumers at the gas pump are better off supporting American jobs and access to clean, secure American energy, rather than Middle Eastern oil. As a Veteran and a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I see renewable, home-grown fuel as not only critical for our environment and our economy, but also as a national security imperative,” Duckworth said.