Senator Says Move Responds to Her Push to Expand Nation’s Use of Renewable Fuels, Increase Demand for Minnesota Farm Products
WASHINGTON, D.C. [10/09/18]—U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said her continued push to jump-start the beleaguered farm economy by expanding the use of ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply is now bearing fruit, as the Trump Administration has responded to her call to allow year-round sales of E-15 gasoline.
Earlier this month, Sen. Smith, in a letter to the President and his top farm and trade officials, pushed the Administration to take several steps to help farmers and ranchers in Minnesota and across the country who have been hit hard by years of low farm prices and trade disruptions. She pressed strongly to allow gasoline blended with 15 percent ethanol to be sold year-round. The move would expand demand for Minnesota farm products, and help lift prices. This week, the President directed the Environmental Protection Agency to begin taking steps to allow such sales.
“Farmers in Minnesota and across the country have been hit hard by low farm prices and recent trade uncertainties that have pushed prices even lower,” said Sen. Smith. “I’ve pushed the Administration to pay attention to the farm economy because it is vital to the economic well-being of our entire state. This proposal to allow year-round sales of E-15 responds to my call for expanded use of ethanol in our nation’s fuel supply. I’m going to press to make sure the Administration follows through on this because it will increase demand for farm products and bolster our farm communities.”
In addition to highlighting the need to expand E-15 sales, last month Sen. Smith also called on the President and other top Administration farm and trade officials to pass the bipartisan Farm Bill, strengthen the RFS, and address the grain storage shortage.
Sen. Smith fought for and won a spot on the Agriculture Committee when she arrived in the Senate in January. In preparation for the Farm Bill debate, she formed her “Farm Bill Working Group” to hear from farmers, ranchers, and rural community leaders—as well as experts on nutrition, energy, and conservation—to make sure Minnesota priorities are included in the legislation. She and her staff have traveled across Minnesota to hear from Minnesotans on the state’s Farm Bill priorities.
Sen. Smith authored and championed several measures in the Senate Farm Bill, including her legislative roadmap for the energy title of the Farm Bill, her provision to expand access to much-needed broadband in rural communities and tribal areas across the country, and a provision to create a U.S. Department of Agriculture “Rural Health Liaison” who will work with other federal health officials to address rural America’s unique health care needs. The bill also funds Sen. Smith’s efforts to help younger and non-traditional farmers get started in the business, and it responds to her call to preserve the Sugar Program which supports thousands of jobs across the Red River Valley in Northwest Minnesota.