Senator Also Asks for Status Update on Creating a USDA Rural Health Liaison, an Effort She Championed in 2018 Farm Bill

WASHINGTON, DC [10/17/19]— Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) pressed U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Stephen Censky about the Administration’s policy on the amount of corn-based ethanol and other renewable fuels blended into the nation’s gasoline supply. 

Sen. Smith, who has long urged expanded use of renewables, said that a strong renewable fuels standard is critically important to Minnesota corn and soybean farmers and is key to job creation in many rural communities.

Her questioning came in response to President Trump’s announcement two weeks ago that he would take steps to make up for the abuse of small refinery waivers, which have allowed oil refineries to avoid using four billion gallons of biofuels. But the Administration’s plan released this week only accounts for a fraction—less than half—of the gallons of biofuels that have been lost.

“People were kind of feeling hopeful when the President talked about this 15 billion gallon blend assurance, after what’s been a really cruddy year for corn producers and ethanol facilities—some of whom are literally going out of business,” said Sen. Smith in the Senate Agriculture Committee. “Just earlier this week, when this new proposal came out, people really felt like it was a bait and switch. I know you’ve worked a lot on this so I’ve got to ask you. What’s going on here?”
 
On Thursday, Sen. Smith also asked Deputy Secretary Censky for an update on hiring a rural health liaison at the USDA to help address health disparities in rural communities in Minnesota and across the country. Senator Smith championed this effort in the 2018 Farm Bill.
 

You can access video of Sen. Smith’s questioning here.

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