When the US Senate returns from its one-week Memorial Day break, it will begin discussions for a fifth coronavirus relief bill.

With unemployment at record highs and the economy contracting at unseen rates, there is little time for discussions. Relief is needed now and this time around, the Senate should follow the lead of its colleagues in the House and include the ethanol industry in any aid package.

More than 130 ethanol plants across the nation have partially or fully shutdown operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic which has led to a plunge in fuel demand. In Minnesota, the traffic volume in the Twin Cities metro area was 67.1 percent below a baseline for 2016-2019. 

Since then, as the state economy has slowly reopened, the traffic volume has increased. But as of May 20, it was still 15.5 percent lower than the baseline. As such, the ethanol industry in Minnesota is still in serious distress, putting in jeopardy the 18,000 jobs it supports. 

The Senate does not need to look too hard to find a way to help the ethanol industry. 

Two of its members, Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, introduced the  Renewable Fuel Feedstock Reimbursement Act  last week. 

Advocates for the ethanol industry like  MN Biofuels  have in the past month suggested to both Sen. Klobuchar and Sen. Tina Smith that cash payments for bushels of corn processed by an ethanol plant during a specific timeframe would help keep them financially viable for a few months. 

This bill does that. 

Under the act, the USDA will use the Commodity Credit Corporation to reimburse ethanol producers 75 percent of the price of feedstock purchases made from Jan 1, 2020 to March 31, 2020. 

The Senate could also take a page out of the  HEROES Act  that was recently passed by Congress. 

The HEROES Act includes the Renewable Fuel Reimbursement Program which would require the USDA to make payments to renewable fuel or advanced biofuel producers that experienced unexpected market losses due to the pandemic.   Read More
Ernst, Grassley Urge FDA To Clarify Hand Sanitizer Guidelines The FDA has provided conflicting guidelines to the ethanol industry which has made significant investments to produce hand sanitizer. Read More

Klobuchar Holds Discussions On Supporting Ethanol Sen. Amy Klobuchar held a discussion with Al-Corn Clean Fuel and POET Biorefining to discuss ways to help the ethanol industry in MN. Read More

Grassley, Klobuchar Introduce Bill To Provide Relief To Ethanol Producers The bill proposes to reimburse ethanol producers for feedstock purchases made in the first quarter of 2020. Read More

House Includes Relief For Ethanol In HEROES Act The latest coronavirus relief package introduced by Congress includes payments to ethanol producers who experienced market losses due to the pandemic. Read More

Ethanol Production Increases by 8% Production of ethanol for the week ending May 15 grew 8% more than the previous week as the demand began to slowly increase. Read More

Groups Ask Congress To Provide COVID-19 Relief For Biofuels Agriculture and biofuel groups have asked Congress to help the ethanol industry as more than 130 plants have either partially or fully shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Read More
Electric Cooperatives Ask Congress To Provide Aid For Ethanol Electric cooperatives in the Midwest have been severely affected by the downturn in the ethanol industry. Read More

US Exports Nearly 140 Million Gallons Of Ethanol In March The US exported 139.93 million gallons of ethanol and 899,730 metric tons of distillers grains in March. Exports of both products were down when compared to March 2019 . Read More

Senators Urge Trump To Uphold RFS A bipartisan group of 24 senators, including Sen.Klobuchar and Sen. Smith, have sent a letter to President Trump urging him to reject requests from five state governors to have the RFS waived.   Read More

Bail Out Clean Energy Before Oil, Most Americans Say 56% of voters prefer aid for renewable energy while 43% of voters supported aid for the oil industry. Read More

USDA Announces $100 Million For Biofuels Infrastructure The USDA will make $100 million in competitive grants available to expand access to E15 and other blends of ethanol. Read More

5.5 Million Gallons Of E15 Sold In MN In March E15 sales in Minnesota fell below the 6-million gallon mark in March as traffic in the state came to a halt following a peacetime emergency declaration in the state to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Read More