The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced it would grant ethanol production waivers to 31 oil refining companies, something North Dakota Farmers Union President Mark Watne called "another nail in the coffin of family farmers."

Oil refineries are not mandated to comply with required levels of production under the Renewable Fuel Standard when waivers are granted. The law intended to increase ethanol and biodiesel production from year to year.

According to National Farmers Union, the increase of waivers has cut demand for biofuels by 2.6 billion gallons since 2016. Approximately 85 small refineries have been granted exemptions in the last three years.

“This administration has said they support renewable fuel production and have shown some support by adding E15 year-round,” Watne said. “But the problem is the waivers they have granted take all the gain and more away from ethanol production and usage.”

Watne said ethanol drives the demand for corn, and corn sales typically lead commodity price increases.

“That’s why these waivers are especially devastating,” Watne said. “The companies receiving these waivers have had great earnings. Agriculture is projected to have another year of losses. The administration has it backward.”

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