EPA’s New Tailpipe Standard Will Hurt Family Farms

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) expressed grave concern and disappointment today with the Environmental Protection Agency’s final 2027-2032 emissions standards for sedans and light- and medium-duty trucks.

The plan still relies almost exclusively on the use of electric vehicles, requiring that a majority of the specified fleets are electric in less than a decade. A decision of this magnitude will have long-lasting negative implications for the rural economy because it ignores the benefits of ethanol.  

“We are deeply concerned and disappointed that EPA has chosen to force a one-size-fits-all solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ignore the readily available solution that biofuels like ethanol bring to the table,” said NCGA President Harold Wolle. “This decision will not only severely hamper the administration’s ability to reach its own climate goals, but it will also hurt family farms and rural communities that rely heavily on the sale of biofuels. On top of that, it will remove consumer choice from the market.”  

Given that for the past 15 years more than one-third of the corn produced each year has been used in ethanol, Wolle’s concerns are shared by many experts.

Economists Jeffrey Stokes and Jim Jansen, writing for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, recently noted this magnitude of structural loss in corn demand could lead to a permanent 50% decrease in the price of corn causing the top five corn-producing states (Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Indiana) to collectively lose well over $100 billion in farmland value from corn acreage alone. The authors noted that such a decline would have profound implications for the financial viability of Midwestern farming operations and the nation’s food supply.

Corn growers have been on the forefront of the campaign to lower emissions. For example, NCGA has urged Congress to pass the Next Generation Fuels Act, which would set a new, cleaner standard for fuel that capitalizes on American-grown biofuels. The organization has also pushed for consumer access to higher blends of ethanol at the pump.

Currently, around one percent of the cars on the road are electric vehicles. Increasing that number significantly will require major infrastructure developments and improvements in a short amount of time, something concerning to a majority of consumers, as shown in a recent survey, sponsored by NCGA and conducted by Morning Consult.

Results from a recent survey showed that Americans have concerns on a range of issues involving electric vehicles, including the accessibility of charging stations, and 72 percent say vehicles that are compatible with biofuels should remain available to consumers.

Farmers have pointed to California to illustrate the difficulties that come with an overreliance on electric vehicles. The state, one of the most prominent in the push for electrification, has spent years at the forefront of the transition to EVs, spending enormous political capital and billions of dollars to encourage its citizens to embrace electric vehicles. Yet, by the end of 2022, only 2.6% of the state’s light-duty vehicles were electrified.

The desire to significantly reduce GHG emissions and address climate change has been a marquee issue

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