Letters to the Editor

Perfect storm hitting rural economies

Agriculture is facing growing challenges on multiple fronts during the COVID-19 pandemic, and our agricultural supply chains are becoming increasingly strained as a result. Just recently another ethanol plant, ADM which is located in Cedar Rapids, halted production for at least four months as overall ethanol production is hitting record lows.

Why does this matter? 40 percent of our nation’s corn yield goes into ethanol production, which produces both fuel and coproducts like corn oil and animal feed. With half of all ethanol plants offline, farmers are left with an increasingly shrinking market for our crop and some tough decisions ahead. Meanwhile, planting is off to a quick start across the state, crude oil prices are hovering at historic lows, and fuel demand is significantly down. These factors all place downward pressure on corn prices when we can least afford it.

Our already struggling pork and cattle producers are seeing an impact as well. Much of the CO2, used as a refringent by our meatpackers, is a byproduct of ethanol production. The CO2 shortage is further disrupting the meat processing supply chain, which is a growing concern for grocery shoppers and food security.

The first round of federal relief ignored the biofuels sector. I hope our leaders in D.C. understand the current economic stress rippling through our rural communities. The oil industry is already in line for billions, but meaningful support needs to be provided for our ethanol producers and rural economies.

State Rep. Lee Hein

Monticello

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