NOT OVER: Debate Over RFS & Farm Bill Continues

Thousands of farmers are in Des Moines to check out the latest equipment at the Iowa Power Farming Show.

New tractors and combines are nice, but many farmers would be happy with some certainty, instead.

2013 was a great year production wise for Iowa farmers, but a great harvest doesn’t necessarily provide the money to buy new equipment.

Farmers like Darrell Hock say there’s no use in having twice the corn if he has to sell it at half the price.

“Our prices are only 50% of what they were a year ago,” said Hock.

On Monday, a conference committee reached a deal on a new farm bill that could soon make its way to the House and Senate floors.

The final draft will likely eliminate direct payments farmers receive simply for putting a crop in the ground.

Monte Shaw, the director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association says farmers were willing to give up those payments.

Farmers believed the demand for ethanol and bio-diesel would keep prices high.

“They could do that because they had a market. They had the RFS to create a market,” said Shaw.

The RFS is the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Shaw says lawmakers are threatening to scale it back, which would mean less ethanol and bio-diesel in America’s fuel supply.

In turn, corn and soybean values could plummet.

“You took away the safety net out of the farm bill and now you’re yanking the market from underneath farmers. That is a recipe for rural economic disaster,” Shaw told Channel 13 News.

The RFS and a new farm bill may be two separate debates, but add it up and you’ll find each depends on the other.

Iowa farmers have a lot of incentive to say “don’t mess with the RFS”.

“I’m absolutely worried about both,” said Bill Crowe, a farmer from Indianola.

Both Senator Tom Harkin and Senator Charles Grassley have urged the EPA not to reduce the Renewable Fuel Standard.

As far as their support for the new farm bill, Harkin, a member of the conference committee backs it calling it a sound, balanced, bi-partisan bill.

In a statement to Channel 13 News, Grassley said he was still reviewing the bill.

He agrees it provides certainty for farmers, but says he still weighing the positives and negatives.

The debate on both seems to be far from over.


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