Corn growers confront Trump administration

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

I grew up on a farm. My wife grew up on a farm. My family and I still own a farm that has been in our family for 154 years. My letter concerns a threat to that farm, and to all the Iowans who depend on agriculture to feed their families. Recent actions by the Trump administration threaten small, independent farm ownership in Iowa. Recently I saw corn growers nationwide standing up to the administration to protect farmers and, as someone who is also affected by administration policies, I appreciate the plain-talk by the corn grower’s association on this topic.

Thirty-nine percent of Iowa corn is used for ethanol. Without a strong Renewable Fuel Standard, less ethanol is produced. As a result, more ethanol producers are closing corn ethanol plants. More ethanol plants will close if this continues. Lower ethanol fuel consumption reduces corn demand. Reduced corn demand means lower corn prices for Iowa farmers.

In late September, corn growers from 23 states signed a letter to the president on behalf of 300,000 corn growers. They requested the president obey the law keeping whole the RFS. This was after recent EPA approval of 31 new Renewable Fuel Standard waivers granted to big oil. That is 85 total waivers in all, four billion gallons in all. This action is seen as a step toward further discarding the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Nearly 30 ethanol and biodiesel plants across the nation are now idle. Three plants in Iowa have closed, so far. Plymouth Energy’s ethanol plant in Merrill shut down, as did the Siouxland Energy Cooperative in Sioux Center. W2 Fuel’s 10 million gallon biodiesel plant in Crawfordsville is closing also. Without a quick reversal, more agriculture jobs will be lost. On Friday, Oct. 4, the administration said it would begin to take steps to improve the situation for ethanol. How many years will it be until the market is restored? Can Iowa’s small farmers survive until then?

The harvest time rollback of the standard is especially bad given the trade war started by this administration. Further, Iowa GOP Governor Kim Reynolds has taken steps this year to prevent Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller from advocating for Iowans in federal court, including those hurt by Trump administration policies. Policies in Washington are hurting Iowa farmers. Choosing between Iowa farmers and the administration, the Iowa governor chose to neuter our A.G., who might otherwise have petitioned courts for relief.

Every small farm that fails as a result of this administration is one step away from capitalism, and one step closer to big corporation agricultural oligarchy. That is un-American. Farmers’ frustration with this administration is growing. Farmers are not begging for assistance. They just request the administration’s EPA uphold existing law, and that they understand the importance of small farmers to the future of this nation.

FREDERICK TIELEBEIN

Independence

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