As a farmer in Iowa, I am no stranger to adversity – neither are my neighbors, nor the generations that came before me, nor the generations that will continue to follow. We face several challenges like weather, falling commodity prices and uncertain trade policies. So why do we do it? Why stay committed to agriculture?
America’s farmers are in a unique position to feed and fuel the globe. Agriculture is an industry that built this nation and continues to support economies both large and small across the country – including the state of Iowa. Unfortunately, the success and ingenuity of America’s farmers have now placed the industry and family farms at a crossroads. As a nation, we must take action now to help farmers who are facing the worst agriculture crisis since the farm foreclosures of the 1980s.
The numbers speak for themselves. Farm income is at a 12-year low, leaving family farms highly leveraged and vulnerable. While technology has allowed us to grow more on less land, these advances are to our peril. Farmers are now sitting on nearly 20 billion bushels globally of excess corn, wheat and soybeans, with only one market capable to soaking up the extra – biofuels.
Biofuels are a true growth opportunity for agriculture – offering farmers a growing market for commodities and a boost in prices. Nationwide, year-round use of a fuel called E15, which includes a 15 percent blend of biofuels, would utilize 2 billion bushels of that excess grain. Unfortunately, an outdated D.C. regulation forbids the sales of this cleaner, cheaper fuel year-round.
That is, until now.
President Trump announced his public support of selling E15 year-round. I applaud President Trump for pursuing this common-sense solution and for standing up to Sen. Ted Cruz and the oil industry. Slashing red tape is exactly what this president was elected to do.
Agriculture is at a breaking point and any legislative or regulatory changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard would destroy any hope of revitalizing farm income and rural America under the Trump Administration.
President Trump’s support of year-round E15 is a solid step in the right direction. There is no easy fix to bring agriculture out of this slump, but incremental decisions like this one will put us on the right path.
While I cannot speak on behalf of the entire agriculture industry, I can speak on behalf of my family and our farm: We stand ready to conquer any adversity that is ahead and will spend every day creating a cleaner environment and stronger economy for generations to come.
Derek Young is a farmer near Wallingford.