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Ethanol Expansion a Win for Farmers

October 10, 2018 06:35 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- Farming – it’s at the heart of the Midwest economy.

With recent tariffs on agricultural products, from soybeans to pork, it’s been a tough time to be a farmer.

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But now, a new directive from President Trump could offer a boost to corn farmers.

And it all starts with ethanol, a biofuel made from corn.

"Right now all the gasoline in America is 10 percent biofuel. This would allow us to get up to 15 percent biofuel, so a 50 percent increase. That is 7 billion gallons of biofuel or about 2 billion bushels of corn,” said Chris Hanson, general manager at POET Biorefining in Preston, a plant that makes ethanol.

The directive applies to E15, or what’s known as octane 88 at the gas station, and it’s different than E85, which is available year-round.

"What president trump did yesterday was announced the year-round availability of E15. Prior to that, in the summertime, e15 would be restricted to only certain vehicles,” Chris said.

With the new directive, E15 would be available any time of the year.

“More people will be able to put that in their car, which hopefully drives up more ethanol sales, more ethanol gallons being put in the Nationwide cars, and hopefully that will drive the corn price up,” said Brennen Toquam, a corn farmer in Blooming Prairie, MN.

But not everyone is as excited about the directive as Brennen.

A spokesperson for the Sierra Club called it “beyond irresponsible” and said it violates the Clean Air Act.

But Brennen said it’s a victory for farmers.

“I've seen it as much as 25 cents cheaper at certain gas stations, and you get the same gas mileage as I can tell when I run it in my vehicle. So it's a win-win for farmers and consumers,” he said.

Taking into account the impacts of recent tariffs, Chris says this boost would really help farmers.

“There is nothing else that is increasing the consumption of corn right now so the farmers need this. The farmers need some way some other market and this is it. This is the only way up for farmers,” he said.

KAAL-TV

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