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Emergency ethanol waiver could benefit local farmers

Posted at 8:02 AM, Apr 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-14 09:02:33-04

PULASKI (NBC 26) — In an attempt to provide relief amid rising gas prices, President Biden announced Tuesday that his administration will temporarily allow an ethanol blend of gasoline to be sold year-round. E15 gasoline, which uses a 15% ethanol blend, is usually banned from being sold between June and September over concerns it adds smog in high temperatures.

On average, E15 gasoline costs about 10 cents less than regular E10 gasoline. It might be a small cost difference but it could greatly benefit local farmers, both in savings on gas and in profits for farmers that grow corn, which is used to make ethanol.

Phil Ullman, a Pulaski farmer with the Brown County Farm Bureau, grows corn on his family farm which he frequently sells to local ethanol plants. With the announcement of the waiver, Ullman says he could now get a better price for his corn.

“It’ll make more demand for corn, like the last two days I looked and the price of corn went up twenty to thirty cents depending which month you’re looking at,” Ullman said.

Despite environmental concerns, the move has bipartisan support as it not only provides relief from high gas prices but also benefits corn-producing farmers. Experts say the waiver will provide some relief for farmers who were hit especially hard by inflation amid the pandemic.

"They've been hit hard over the years and especially recently," said Moses Altsech, a marketing lecturer at the UW-Madison Wisconsin School of Business. "Their costs have increased tremendously both for labor, for fertilizer, for a lot of things, so increased prices for corn certainly is welcome news for farmers."

Altsech says while it may not be massive savings, you may save a dollar or two each time you visit the pump.

“Think about filling a sort of regular Sedan and spending a dollar less when you fill it up," Altsech said. "If it’s a larger truck or larger SUV, you may save two or three bucks.”

Altsech says the waiver will bring temporary relief while the federal government looks for a more permanent solution to try to lower gas prices.

"It’s a short term measure and the long term measures all have to do with supply and how much oil is coming into the system, how we can increase domestic production which takes time, how we can talk other countries into increasing production,” Altsech said.