The farmer vote is far from a lock this time around.

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Can Iowa farmers survive without ethanol? Can Trump survive without Iowa farmers?

Donnelle Eller

Des Moines Register

Bill Couser says he's disappointed with politicians who fail to keep their promises to support ethanol production, an industry that was created in response to the nation's call to reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil.

The farmer from the Story County town of Nevada recently watched as President Donald Trump met with U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst in Cedar Rapids. Trump promised the Iowa Republican he would personally talk with the Environmental Protection Agency about dozens of waiver requests that, if granted, would cut the amount of ethanol and biodiesel blended into the nation's fuel supply.

Iowa farmers, who send half their corn crops to biofuels refineries like the one Couser helped spearhead near his hometown, have heard for months that the administration would fully support renewable fuels — but their concern over the requested waivers remains.

"I've sat in front of the president, and he does look you in the eye, and he does listen to you," Couser said, adding, "It just makes you wonder what happens after that."

He holds out hope Trump will heed the requests of Ernst and other Iowa leaders. So far, though, he said, he's seen no evidence of it.

Ethanol and biodiesel have been a boon to Iowa and Midwest farmers, boosting corn and soybean prices for nearly two decades. But the renewable fuel industry faces mounting challenges that have experts questioning its future.

What the renewable fuel industry is up against

Trade wars have slashed exports. The coronavirus slammed the brakes on demand for ethanol, along with gasoline, as Americans cut travel to prevent the virus' spread. And the EPA is again considering the dozens of small refinery exemptions that the industry says last year cut by billions of gallons the amount of ethanol and biodiesel the oil industry is required by a 2005 law to blend into the nation's fuel supply.

Iowa farm and renewable fuel leaders say that instead of rejecting the exemptions and setting next year's blending requirements, the president is courting voters in Texas and other oil-producing states. They sent Trump a letter last week, telling him that without action on ethanol, he risks losing rural voters, a block vital to his reelection bid.

"Iowa may very well hang in the balance," farm leaders wrote the president.

"A lot of people are disgusted with what's going on in rural America and agriculture during this administration," said Kelly Nieuwenhuis, a northwest Iowa farmer who said he hasn't yet decided who he will vote for in November.

The Aug. 10 derecho has added to the misery, wiping out or greatly reducing yields for millions of acres of corn and soybeans — losses that resulted in only modest gains in prices.

The long-term outlook for renewable fuels is murky as well: Increasingly fuel-efficient cars and trucks, a shift to electric vehicles, and consumer reluctance to adopt higher ethanol blends will diminish demand, experts predict.

Before the coronavirus hit, the ethanol industry lost about $375 million from January to March, said Scott Irwin, a University of Illinois economist. This is an "industry that has a significant overcapacity problem and overproduction problem," Irwin said.

Widespread consolidation within the industry and reduction of excess capacity is expected — a shift that's already beginning to happen, with a few plants that failed to reopen after being shuttered last year. And the door is closing on any hope the Trump administration will act on farm concerns.

"We’re tired of fighting the same fight same over and over," Nieuwenhuis said. "I don’t think they understand how important" renewable fuels are to farmers.

Couser said his son, also a farmer, recently questioned whether the ethanol industry, in which many farmers invested their own money, would continue to exist.

Couser, who was part of the team that raised $40 million to build Lincolnway Energy, a 50-million-gallon ethanol plant near Nevada, said he told his son: "I'm not going to give up and neither should you or any other farmer around here."

'We did this because the government asked us to'

The 2001 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil raised national concerns that the country had become too reliant on imported oil to power its homes, businesses and vehicles.

Couser said his father told him that the Sept. 11 attacks were his generation's Pearl Harbor. Farmers responded.

"We did this because the government asked us to," he said. "And to me, that's what's so disappointing today."

Congress established the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2005, and expanded it in 2007, requiring that a growing amount of ethanol and biodiesel be blended into the nation's fuel supply through 2022.

The renewable fuels industry grew to meet the RFS mandate. Iowa, a national leader in growing corn and soybean, makes the most ethanol and biodiesel in the country.

But in 2008, the Great Recession hit and travel decreased, reducing fuel demand, said David Swenson, an Iowa State University economist.

About the same time, the fracking boom sent U.S. oil and natural gas supplies soaring.

"The fracking revolution absolutely, totally eliminated the United States' energy anxiety and energy nationalism," Swenson said. "By 2015, it's all but gone."

"And we're now the world's largest producer of petroleum products," Swenson said.

The need for ethanol, biodiesel and other biofuels "does look quite different now than maybe it did 15 years ago," said Jeremy Martin, the Union of Concerned Scientists' director of fuel policy.

But ethanol and biodiesel, along with growing electric vehicle adoption, are still important to reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, Martin said.

"It's not about running out of oil," he said. It's about "avoiding the catastrophic harm from climate change."

'It's just a much more challenging economic proposition'

In Iowa, companies have shelved production of cellulosic ethanol, a greener biofuel made from corn stalks, husks and other crop residue. South Dakota-based producer Poet paused operations at its Emmetsburg plant last November, although research and development continue. And DowDuPont closed its cellulosic ethanol plant in Nevada in 2017, selling it a year later to a German company that plans to produce renewable natural gas.

Under the biofuels mandate, ethanol's greenhouse gas emissions must be at least 20% lower than gasoline's, and the next generation of cellulosic ethanol must be at least 60% greener. The industry says corn-based ethanol emits 40%-45% less greenhouse gas than gasoline.

Martin said producing cellulosic ethanol was financially viable when the oil price was forecast to be $100 or more a barrel. Now, oil is trading around $40 a barrel after its value fell below zero at the beginning of the coronavirus shutdowns.

"It's just a much more challenging economic proposition," Martin said. "I think that's a fundamental piece that people overlook."

He points to a U.S. House committee studying the climate crisis, which recommends the nation adopt a low-carbon fuel standard that builds on the RFS. California already has a carbon standard and other states are considering them.

"Low-carbon standards are on the top of everyone's mind," said Nieuwenhuis, who is also board president of the Siouxland Energy Cooperative, which gets a premium for the ethanol it sells to the California market.

The low-carbon standard considers the direct greenhouse emissions from making, moving and using fuel, along with "indirect emissions" associated with growing the corn, perennial grass and other feedstock used in production, and changes in land use.

The renewable fuels industry has reduced the energy and water needed to make ethanol. But Martin said there are more opportunities, including new technology. "We don't need more ethanol gallons. We need cleaner gallons," Martin said.

'This could be done, taken care of'

Nieuwenhuis said the past four years have been the worst he's experienced financially. "A lot of it has to do with politics," he said.

Trade wars with China, Mexico and Canada, among other countries, have slashed demand for corn, soybeans and ethanol since 2018. The Trump administration provided $28 billion in farm aid over two years to offset the trade losses.

"It keeps you afloat, but it doesn't make you whole," Nieuwenhuis said. "We'd rather have export markets."

Irwin, the University of Illinois economist, calculates that the ethanol industry lost 2 cents on every gallon produced in 2019. "It was a very poor year that carried into 2020," he said.

Ethanol production remains down about 10%, Irwin said, with Americans still traveling less due to the coronavirus. If that production doesn't come back, it could cut 20 cents from the price for a bushel of corn. "It definitely hurts," he said. "There’s no way around that. It increases the misery that’s already there from a financial standpoint."

A report from the Chicago Federal Reserve, which includes Iowa in its district, shows the farm stress: 8.3% of the district's second-quarter farm loans had "major or severe" repayment problems, the highest proportion since 1988, near the end of the 1980s farm crisis.

Renewable fuels leaders blame the Trump administration in part for last year's dismal performance. Though Trump approved year-round use of gasoline with 15% ethanol, it's been overshadowed by the EPA's approval of 85 small refinery exemptions. The industry says the exemptions have cut an estimated 4 billion gallons of renewable fuel demand since 2016.

The EPA has almost 100 more requests this year, even after a federal appeals court ruled in January that the agency "exceeded its authority in granting" certain exemptions. And the Trump administration also has yet to set how much refiners must blend into the nation's fuel supply in the coming year. The lengthy process is supposed to be completed by Nov. 30.

Nieuwenhuis, Couser and others say the president could stop the EPA from approving more waivers, given the court decision.

"A lot of things are out of our control right now," said Mike Naig, Iowa's agriculture secretary, pointing to lost trade, disruption from the coronavirus, devastation from the Aug. 10 derecho and growing drought. "But with renewables, this could be done, this could be taken care of, the uncertainty could be gone, if EPA would simply shut the door on these small refinery exemptions."

"This issue definitely could impact the November elections," said Naig, a Republican.

'They may just leave the top of the ballot blank'

Irwin, however, said the blame for renewable fuels' financial losses lies more with ethanol's expansion from 2015 to 2018 than with the small refinery exemptions. The industry "was betting on continued expansion of domestic markets through higher blends and expansion of ethanol exports," primarily to China, Irwin said. "It didn't happen."

Irwin believes that renewable fuel producers should focus on serving the aviation and maritime markets, which could provide more certainty than the shrinking vehicle fuel industry.

That's not a solution, said Monte Shaw, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association's executive director. "A lot of plants are looking for ways to diversify," Shaw said. But transportation fuel will remain their mainstay.

"The nation will need low-carbon liquid fuels for decades," he said.

Despite his disappointment with the Trump administration, Couser said he plans to vote for the president. The cattleman said he's worried about regulations that former Vice President Joe Biden would pursue.

And Couser said he doesn't hear the Democratic presidential nominee talking about ethanol.

Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack said Biden or his representative talked about renewable fuel during each of about 50 visits to Iowa during the caucuses. And it's part of the Democratic platform.

"Every time this administration has a choice between big oil and corn and soybean farmers, they choose big oil," Vilsack said.

Biden, calling renewable fuels vital to jobs in rural America and the nation's response to climate change, has pledged to invest heavily in developing the next generation of biofuels and to "use every tool" at his disposal to boost demand, "including the federal fleet and the federal government’s purchasing power."

Vilsack, who served as the U.S. agriculture secretary under President Barack Obama, questioned why the EPA has failed to rule on the small refinery exemptions. "I've been on the receiving end of calls from the president of the United States ... and it usually results in immediate action."

As Nieuwenhuis tries to decide who he'll support, he said, he hears farmers say they don't like either presidential candidate.

"They may just leave the top of the ballot blank," he said.

Donnelle Eller covers agriculture, the environment and energy for the Register. Reach her at deller@registermedia.com or at 515-284-8457.
 

IndyHusker

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This is very anedotal but I know of one farmer that will vote Democrat. He also voted for Hillary and Obama.

I cannot think of another farmer client or friend that isn't pro Trump. Maybe 200ish people?

We're seeing some turning here in Indiana. Few are excited about Biden, but I can see quite a few not voting for either, which is a net loss for Trump. Iowa isn't always a gimme for the Repubs (went for Obama both times I believe), so it could be in toss-up mode. While most farmers are conservative by nature, that doesn't make them all pro Republican. My dad usually went with which ever candidate felt right at the time. And like my father, most farmers don't have much stomach for liars, cheaters and thieves.
 

IowaHuskerFan3

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Just came across Iowa on I80 from Des Moines going East most everything I saw was flat there is no way they harvest that corn. Estimated 30million acres destroyed
 
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IndyHusker

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Just came across Iowa on I80 from Des Moines going East most everything I saw was flat there is no way they harvest that corn. Estimated 30million acres destroyed

That number isn't remotely close. They only planted 14.1 million acres of corn and soybeans weren't damaged from the wind (they are from the drought). I surveyed the damage and the lost acreage will likely be under 500,000. Several million does have damage and it will be a bitch to harvest.
 

IndyHusker

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Damn socialists


These farmers need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps

I've been around farmers my entire life. I've been working for them or with them every year since the age of ten. Through no fault of their own, they're part of one of the biggest social programs in U.S. history. They don't like it, but it's the reality.
 

Jim14510

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You could seriously add all of the presidents together and it wouldn't rival Trump. A big part of that is twitter of course, which allows the prez to lie several times a day at times.
I was going to say most of them we don't know they were lying. Trump has a lot of stupid little lies too.

Basically every time a politician says "I'm going to..." its either a bold faced lie or its a part truth.
 

nelsonj22

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Just came across Iowa on I80 from Des Moines going East most everything I saw was flat there is no way they harvest that corn. Estimated 30million acres destroyed
No shit, from that straight line wind awhile back? Guess I don't get out enough.:oops:
 

nelsonj22

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That number isn't remotely close. They only planted 14.1 million acres of corn and soybeans weren't damaged from the wind (they are from the drought). I surveyed the damage and the lost acreage will likely be under 500,000. Several million does have damage and it will be a bitch to harvest.
Indy this is shitty for those farmers but good for prices type of thing right?

I don't even pretend to understand commodities, but remember bumper crops usually drive the price down.
 

Jim14510

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Indy this is a shitty for farmer but good for prices type of thing right?

I don't even pretend to understand commodities, but remember bumper crops usually drive the price down.
Drop in the bucket.
 
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nelsonj22

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Drop in the bucket.
Gotcha and thank God.

This isn't popular but as an outdoorsman, high corn and bean prices = tear out every tree, so $2 corn grown in Brazil is fine with me lol
 

Jim14510

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Gotcha and thank God.

This isn't popular but as an outdoorsman, high corn and bean prices = tear out every tree, so $2 corn grown in Brazil is fine with me lol
Would think that damage was done 2008-2012.
 
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IndyHusker

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Indy this is shitty for those farmers but good for prices type of thing right?

I don't even pretend to understand commodities, but remember bumper crops usually drive the price down.

Yes on your last paragraph, but this August was rough on both the corn and soybean crops. Both will still be large, but not nearly as large as we were expecting. Prices have gone up substantially the past three weeks.
 
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Cash68847

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You could seriously add all of the presidents together and it wouldn't rival Trump. A big part of that is twitter of course, which allows the prez to lie several times a day at times.
Past Presidents were more obscure about their dishonesty. Obama was one of the best when it came to this. He gave good speeches though.
 

IowaHuskerFan3

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That number isn't remotely close. They only planted 14.1 million acres of corn and soybeans weren't damaged from the wind (they are from the drought). I surveyed the damage and the lost acreage will likely be under 500,000. Several million does have damage and it will be a bitch to harvest.
Yes I was off, my mistake
 
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Jim14510

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He told his share as well. But literally thousands less than the current guy. But again, twitter has helped Trump set a bunch of records.
I already agreed Trump is #1. You really don't have to reiterate every time.

Clinton most likely wouldn't have been on Twitter but if he was he'd definitely be in the running.
 
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IndyHusker

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I already agreed Trump is #1. You really don't have to reiterate every time.

Clinton most likely wouldn't have been on Twitter but if he was he'd definitely be in the running.

No. Clinton never had the urge to retaliate every time somebody dissed him. Thicker skinned than DT by a very large amount. I wasn't a fan, so I'm not defending him for his transgressions, of which there were several.
 

nelsonj22

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Would think that damage was done 2008-2012.
It was horrendous down around us, they tore out trees growing in the middle of the creeks for fvck sake lol

$2 corn from Brazil would destroy the economy in my community so probably not a good thing.
 

Cash68847

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Clinton was an excellent liar too. Middle class tax cuts, cigars, etc
Trust me you can go down the line. It’s funny how Obama thinks Bush is a great guy now even though if he is wasn’t a President a lot of the stuff he did would put him in prison.
 
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nelsonj22

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Yes on your last paragraph, but this August was rough on both the corn and soybean crops. Both will still be large, but not nearly as large as we were expecting. Prices have gone up substantially the past three weeks.
That's good, weren't the process a little scary low for awhile?

I always hope for the prices right in that nice living but not enough extra to take out a personal vendetta against trees/wholly draws range lol
 

lifer56

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Can Iowa farmers survive without ethanol? Can Trump survive without Iowa farmers?

Donnelle Eller

Des Moines Register

Bill Couser says he's disappointed with politicians who fail to keep their promises to support ethanol production, an industry that was created in response to the nation's call to reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil.

The farmer from the Story County town of Nevada recently watched as President Donald Trump met with U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst in Cedar Rapids. Trump promised the Iowa Republican he would personally talk with the Environmental Protection Agency about dozens of waiver requests that, if granted, would cut the amount of ethanol and biodiesel blended into the nation's fuel supply.

Iowa farmers, who send half their corn crops to biofuels refineries like the one Couser helped spearhead near his hometown, have heard for months that the administration would fully support renewable fuels — but their concern over the requested waivers remains.

"I've sat in front of the president, and he does look you in the eye, and he does listen to you," Couser said, adding, "It just makes you wonder what happens after that."

He holds out hope Trump will heed the requests of Ernst and other Iowa leaders. So far, though, he said, he's seen no evidence of it.

Ethanol and biodiesel have been a boon to Iowa and Midwest farmers, boosting corn and soybean prices for nearly two decades. But the renewable fuel industry faces mounting challenges that have experts questioning its future.

What the renewable fuel industry is up against

Trade wars have slashed exports. The coronavirus slammed the brakes on demand for ethanol, along with gasoline, as Americans cut travel to prevent the virus' spread. And the EPA is again considering the dozens of small refinery exemptions that the industry says last year cut by billions of gallons the amount of ethanol and biodiesel the oil industry is required by a 2005 law to blend into the nation's fuel supply.

Iowa farm and renewable fuel leaders say that instead of rejecting the exemptions and setting next year's blending requirements, the president is courting voters in Texas and other oil-producing states. They sent Trump a letter last week, telling him that without action on ethanol, he risks losing rural voters, a block vital to his reelection bid.

"Iowa may very well hang in the balance," farm leaders wrote the president.

"A lot of people are disgusted with what's going on in rural America and agriculture during this administration," said Kelly Nieuwenhuis, a northwest Iowa farmer who said he hasn't yet decided who he will vote for in November.

The Aug. 10 derecho has added to the misery, wiping out or greatly reducing yields for millions of acres of corn and soybeans — losses that resulted in only modest gains in prices.

The long-term outlook for renewable fuels is murky as well: Increasingly fuel-efficient cars and trucks, a shift to electric vehicles, and consumer reluctance to adopt higher ethanol blends will diminish demand, experts predict.

Before the coronavirus hit, the ethanol industry lost about $375 million from January to March, said Scott Irwin, a University of Illinois economist. This is an "industry that has a significant overcapacity problem and overproduction problem," Irwin said.

Widespread consolidation within the industry and reduction of excess capacity is expected — a shift that's already beginning to happen, with a few plants that failed to reopen after being shuttered last year. And the door is closing on any hope the Trump administration will act on farm concerns.

"We’re tired of fighting the same fight same over and over," Nieuwenhuis said. "I don’t think they understand how important" renewable fuels are to farmers.

Couser said his son, also a farmer, recently questioned whether the ethanol industry, in which many farmers invested their own money, would continue to exist.

Couser, who was part of the team that raised $40 million to build Lincolnway Energy, a 50-million-gallon ethanol plant near Nevada, said he told his son: "I'm not going to give up and neither should you or any other farmer around here."

'We did this because the government asked us to'

The 2001 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil raised national concerns that the country had become too reliant on imported oil to power its homes, businesses and vehicles.

Couser said his father told him that the Sept. 11 attacks were his generation's Pearl Harbor. Farmers responded.

"We did this because the government asked us to," he said. "And to me, that's what's so disappointing today."

Congress established the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2005, and expanded it in 2007, requiring that a growing amount of ethanol and biodiesel be blended into the nation's fuel supply through 2022.

The renewable fuels industry grew to meet the RFS mandate. Iowa, a national leader in growing corn and soybean, makes the most ethanol and biodiesel in the country.

But in 2008, the Great Recession hit and travel decreased, reducing fuel demand, said David Swenson, an Iowa State University economist.

About the same time, the fracking boom sent U.S. oil and natural gas supplies soaring.

"The fracking revolution absolutely, totally eliminated the United States' energy anxiety and energy nationalism," Swenson said. "By 2015, it's all but gone."

"And we're now the world's largest producer of petroleum products," Swenson said.

The need for ethanol, biodiesel and other biofuels "does look quite different now than maybe it did 15 years ago," said Jeremy Martin, the Union of Concerned Scientists' director of fuel policy.

But ethanol and biodiesel, along with growing electric vehicle adoption, are still important to reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, Martin said.

"It's not about running out of oil," he said. It's about "avoiding the catastrophic harm from climate change."

'It's just a much more challenging economic proposition'

In Iowa, companies have shelved production of cellulosic ethanol, a greener biofuel made from corn stalks, husks and other crop residue. South Dakota-based producer Poet paused operations at its Emmetsburg plant last November, although research and development continue. And DowDuPont closed its cellulosic ethanol plant in Nevada in 2017, selling it a year later to a German company that plans to produce renewable natural gas.

Under the biofuels mandate, ethanol's greenhouse gas emissions must be at least 20% lower than gasoline's, and the next generation of cellulosic ethanol must be at least 60% greener. The industry says corn-based ethanol emits 40%-45% less greenhouse gas than gasoline.

Martin said producing cellulosic ethanol was financially viable when the oil price was forecast to be $100 or more a barrel. Now, oil is trading around $40 a barrel after its value fell below zero at the beginning of the coronavirus shutdowns.

"It's just a much more challenging economic proposition," Martin said. "I think that's a fundamental piece that people overlook."

He points to a U.S. House committee studying the climate crisis, which recommends the nation adopt a low-carbon fuel standard that builds on the RFS. California already has a carbon standard and other states are considering them.

"Low-carbon standards are on the top of everyone's mind," said Nieuwenhuis, who is also board president of the Siouxland Energy Cooperative, which gets a premium for the ethanol it sells to the California market.

The low-carbon standard considers the direct greenhouse emissions from making, moving and using fuel, along with "indirect emissions" associated with growing the corn, perennial grass and other feedstock used in production, and changes in land use.

The renewable fuels industry has reduced the energy and water needed to make ethanol. But Martin said there are more opportunities, including new technology. "We don't need more ethanol gallons. We need cleaner gallons," Martin said.

'This could be done, taken care of'

Nieuwenhuis said the past four years have been the worst he's experienced financially. "A lot of it has to do with politics," he said.

Trade wars with China, Mexico and Canada, among other countries, have slashed demand for corn, soybeans and ethanol since 2018. The Trump administration provided $28 billion in farm aid over two years to offset the trade losses.

"It keeps you afloat, but it doesn't make you whole," Nieuwenhuis said. "We'd rather have export markets."

Irwin, the University of Illinois economist, calculates that the ethanol industry lost 2 cents on every gallon produced in 2019. "It was a very poor year that carried into 2020," he said.

Ethanol production remains down about 10%, Irwin said, with Americans still traveling less due to the coronavirus. If that production doesn't come back, it could cut 20 cents from the price for a bushel of corn. "It definitely hurts," he said. "There’s no way around that. It increases the misery that’s already there from a financial standpoint."

A report from the Chicago Federal Reserve, which includes Iowa in its district, shows the farm stress: 8.3% of the district's second-quarter farm loans had "major or severe" repayment problems, the highest proportion since 1988, near the end of the 1980s farm crisis.

Renewable fuels leaders blame the Trump administration in part for last year's dismal performance. Though Trump approved year-round use of gasoline with 15% ethanol, it's been overshadowed by the EPA's approval of 85 small refinery exemptions. The industry says the exemptions have cut an estimated 4 billion gallons of renewable fuel demand since 2016.

The EPA has almost 100 more requests this year, even after a federal appeals court ruled in January that the agency "exceeded its authority in granting" certain exemptions. And the Trump administration also has yet to set how much refiners must blend into the nation's fuel supply in the coming year. The lengthy process is supposed to be completed by Nov. 30.

Nieuwenhuis, Couser and others say the president could stop the EPA from approving more waivers, given the court decision.

"A lot of things are out of our control right now," said Mike Naig, Iowa's agriculture secretary, pointing to lost trade, disruption from the coronavirus, devastation from the Aug. 10 derecho and growing drought. "But with renewables, this could be done, this could be taken care of, the uncertainty could be gone, if EPA would simply shut the door on these small refinery exemptions."

"This issue definitely could impact the November elections," said Naig, a Republican.

'They may just leave the top of the ballot blank'

Irwin, however, said the blame for renewable fuels' financial losses lies more with ethanol's expansion from 2015 to 2018 than with the small refinery exemptions. The industry "was betting on continued expansion of domestic markets through higher blends and expansion of ethanol exports," primarily to China, Irwin said. "It didn't happen."

Irwin believes that renewable fuel producers should focus on serving the aviation and maritime markets, which could provide more certainty than the shrinking vehicle fuel industry.

That's not a solution, said Monte Shaw, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association's executive director. "A lot of plants are looking for ways to diversify," Shaw said. But transportation fuel will remain their mainstay.

"The nation will need low-carbon liquid fuels for decades," he said.

Despite his disappointment with the Trump administration, Couser said he plans to vote for the president. The cattleman said he's worried about regulations that former Vice President Joe Biden would pursue.

And Couser said he doesn't hear the Democratic presidential nominee talking about ethanol.

Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack said Biden or his representative talked about renewable fuel during each of about 50 visits to Iowa during the caucuses. And it's part of the Democratic platform.

"Every time this administration has a choice between big oil and corn and soybean farmers, they choose big oil," Vilsack said.

Biden, calling renewable fuels vital to jobs in rural America and the nation's response to climate change, has pledged to invest heavily in developing the next generation of biofuels and to "use every tool" at his disposal to boost demand, "including the federal fleet and the federal government’s purchasing power."

Vilsack, who served as the U.S. agriculture secretary under President Barack Obama, questioned why the EPA has failed to rule on the small refinery exemptions. "I've been on the receiving end of calls from the president of the United States ... and it usually results in immediate action."

As Nieuwenhuis tries to decide who he'll support, he said, he hears farmers say they don't like either presidential candidate.

"They may just leave the top of the ballot blank," he said.

Donnelle Eller covers agriculture, the environment and energy for the Register. Reach her at deller@registermedia.com or at 515-284-8457.

Any idea why trump hasn't already come out in favor of ethanol and biodiesel?

Do you know what big oil's preferences are re ethanol and biodiesel?
 
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IndyHusker

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Any idea why trump hasn't already come out in favor of ethanol and biodiesel?

Do you know what big oil's preferences are re ethanol and biodiesel?

The answer to your last sentence would be that they'd prefer they go away. But at the same time, they aren't a major thorn in their side. Big oil has Trump's "attention" more than the biofuels lobby, though. That being said, look for something pro farmer to be announced soon, most likely another round of pre-election payments.
 
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lifer56

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The answer to your last sentence would be that they'd prefer they go away. But at the same time, they aren't a major thorn in their side. Big oil has Trump's "attention" more than the biofuels lobby, though. That being said, look for something pro farmer to be announced soon, most likely another round of pre-election payments.
Thanks.
 

2 skerz 3

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Most aren't this off the charts bad. But again, Biden has some work to do to convince farmers that he'll up their bottom lines. Carbon credits will be a focus, in addition to not F'ing up international trade and ethanol again.
WTH happened to the rational/sensible Indy? Wowza! Politics aside, you doing okay?
 
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anon_d59hqc1b9wwsd

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The farmer vote isn’t what it used to be either. Significantly more 10,000+ acre land owners and, obviously, even more significantly less smaller farms. The rural vote however will be 75%+ for Trump. I don’t think this article holds much weight for voting actually.
 
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IndyHusker

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The farmer vote isn’t what it used to be either. Significantly more 10,000+ acre land owners and, obviously, even more significantly less smaller farms. The rural vote however will be 75%+ for Trump. I don’t think this article holds much weight for voting actually.

I doubt it adds more than a point to his losing margin to be honest.
 

Aghusker

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@IndyHusker google LBJ and what he was known to whip out during White House mtgs.

Clinton actually got disbarred for lying. ‘Depends on what definition of is is’. Big lies to Feds.

Trump is a salesman that exaggerates for effect, night and day difference.

Biden straight out lied multiple times in his speech this week- fracking? Biden will break the Trump ‘lies’ record.
 

IndyHusker

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@IndyHusker google LBJ and what he was known to whip out during White House mtgs.

Clinton actually got disbarred for lying. ‘Depends on what definition of is is’. Big lies to Feds.

Trump is a salesman that exaggerates for effect, night and day difference.

Biden straight out lied multiple times in his speech this week- fracking? Biden will break the Trump ‘lies’ record.

I have $10,000 that says Biden won't come remotely close to Trump's lies. It won't even be possible, given that Joe won't be up half the night tweeting out bullshit. You seriously didn't have a straight face when you typed out your post right? Trump is currently pushing 20,000 lies and mis-statements.