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Iowa ethanol industry warns of economic crisis due to RFS waivers

SIOUX CENTER — Ethanol industry leaders say there will be price, storage and political ramifications if President Trump fails act within the next two weeks — and force oil refineries to blend more ethanol into gasoline.

Kelly Nieuwenhuis is president of the board for the Siouxland Energy plant in Sioux Center that has temporarily shut down. Nieuwenhuis this week said Trump’s “political future” in Iowa rides on addressing the ethanol waivers granted to oil refineries.

“When he made that call to grant those last 31 small refinery exemptions, you can’t believe how many upset farmers I was with that day that said they were done voting for President Trump,” Nieuwenhuis said. “That was the final straw and that message is getting out there pretty strongly.”

Daryl Haack, a corn farmer in Primghar, said he and the other members of the Little Sioux Corn Processors board are “staunch Republicans” who are losing patience with Trump on this issue.

“Our board at our ethanol plant I think to a man voted for him three years ago in the election and when we talked about it a month ago, they probably weren’t going to do that (in 2020),” Haack said.

Haack said Iowa farmers understand and support the president’s use of tariffs with trade negotiations, but they do not understand “this give-away to the oil companies.”

The ethanol industry organized a telephone conference call this week  to discuss what it called the “economic crisis” in corn country. Participants said with ethanol plants closed or reducing production, there won’t be enough elevator or on-farm bins to store this fall’s Iowa corn harvest. And that will reduce corn prices. The group also warned banks are beginning to balk at loaning money to ethanol plants.


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