Ethanol industry loses $4 billion due to the pandemic

Published: Dec. 24, 2020 at 5:27 AM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Since the Coronavirus pandemic hit and Americans cut back on their driving, resulting in less demand for ethanol, the industry has lost about $4 billion. But with a new aid package hopefully coming out of Washington soon, financial help may be on the way. The new covid-19 aid bill contains several provisions to financially help the wind and solar energy industries as well as potential help for bio-fuels. The bill doesn’t specifically call for money for ethanol and other bio-fuels but it does give the Secretary of Agriculture some discretion in adding ethanol to the list of industries getting funding.

We do know that when the Congress passed an Omnibus spending bill last week to keep the government operating on a short term basis, more funding will coming to Wisconsin and the Midwest for the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance. Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin secured the $22 million in funding to help support dairy farmers and processors in developing more value added dairy products. The Alliance works with the Wisconsin Cheese Makers and the Center for Dairy Research on behalf of dairy farmers and processors in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

After years of disagreement over regulating Genetically Modified animal research, the USDA and FDA have come to an agreement. USDA officials announced this week they are moving ahead with an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to get public input on its proposal to take over the regulation of animal biotechnology. The plan is for USDA to move some of the Food and Drug Administration’s current animal biotechnology oversight to the Agriculture Department with USDA still consulting FDA on the issue. Included in the research would be mainly for farm animals—cattle, sheep, swine, horses, mules and poultry. The Office of Management and Budget approved the plan last week.

Every phase of education has been negatively affected by the Coronavirus pandemic—including agricultural education. So stepping in with $20,000 in grants for state FFA chapters is the Wisconsin FFA Foundation. Forty chapters in the state will each get $500 to help make up for lost fundraisers. In our area that includes Athens, Augusta, Baldwin-Woodville, Blair-Taylor, Cornell, Ellsworth, Hudson, Medford, New Auburn, Pittsville, River Falls, Sparta, Unity and Westby.

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