USDA’s 98th Ag Outlook Forum took place amid the backdrop of Russia’s war on Ukraine and concerns energy prices will continue to soar, putting more focus on alternatives like renewable fuels.
Just as oil was hitting one hundred dollars a barrel before falling back, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said corn ethanol was helping check pump prices. “Now studies have ranged in terms of the impact and the effect on the price of gas, but it can be pretty significant, and as gas prices increase, it’s significant increases.”
Vilsack says a number of states are already encouraging the sale of higher ethanol blends like E15. “And we want to be helpful in that effort, which is why we established the 100 million dollar fund to essentially help reduce the cost of putting the infrastructure in place that would allow and provide for higher blends.”
700 million dollars in pandemic aid for biofuels are still in the pipeline. As for the EPA and renewing year-round E15 sales. “They are also doing a study or looking at the issue of year-round E15. Obviously, we will do what we can to provide the information and data to support them in the decision that they make, and we’ll do everything we can to make sure the industry is helped.”
And Vilsack says USDA is working with the Departments of Energy and Transportation on a “drop-in” fuel for the airline industry that could mean a 35 billion gallon market by 2050.