Local farmers give EPA Scott Pruitt the cold shoulder

Published: Jun. 13, 2018 at 6:50 PM CDT
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Environmental Protection Agency Scott was in South Dakota, but he didn't get a warm welcome from some farmers.

"The last 3 to 4 years farm income has been down 40 to 50 percent if you look at the statistics," Scott Stahl, a farmer from Western McCook County said. "And ethanol across the state has really provided another avenue, a demand for our product."

Several tractors were seen across Sioux Falls, all to drive a message across to Pruitt.

Right now, more than 15,000 people in the state relay on ethanol for income.

"I would say in my area over 80% of the corn goes to ethanol plants," Stahl said. "So, this is a very critical issue. I really look at the RSF, the Renewal Fuel Standards, as something that has probably been the best policy to come out of Washington D.C."

But, one thing not coming from Washington is the administrator's assurance to lift restrictions on ethanol. Doug Berven, Poet vice-president of corporate affairs, just wants ethanol to be able to compete with oil companies.

"When we have an EPA that allows regulations which don't allow more ethanol into the fuel supply in the summer months," he said. "That restricts our ability to provide the benefits to the American people."

Even two Congressional candidates on opposite sides of the aisle agreed that a change would be better for South Dakota, and all corn growers.

"Allowing E-15 to be purchased year-round is good for everybody, of course, it's good for farmers," Dusty Johnson, Republican Congressional Candidate, said. "E-15 we're going to use more corn, and that's going to help prices come up. Prices are too low right now, and the market is going to help drive that up."

"It looks like the petroleum industry that's got a grip on Mr. Pruitt," Tim Bjorkman, Democratic Congression Candidate, said. "Who's giving credits, really quite secretively to petroleum industry insiders and it's disrupting the ethanol market.

Republican Senator John Thune wrote a letter to the EPA last month and gave a statement June 13th about the rally: " I'm glad he will hear directly from South Dakotans about the policies he's pursuing and how EPA's waivers and attacks on the RFS are negatively affecting the agriculture community in the Midwest and Great Plains. I'm confident that the people he'll meet during his visit to South Dakota will be honest and frank in their questions, and I hope he's prepared to answer in kind."

Pruitt toured a farm near Reliance to speak to local farmers about the Renewal Fuel Standards.

After the rally, we reached out to the EPA. EPA Spokesperson, Lincoln Fergenson, wrote "There are those who are willing to engage in solutions and those who want to promote a false sense of division between Administrator Pruitt and farmers across the country. The farmers we met with in Kansas and South Dakota are passionate about R-F-S and the meetings that have taken place over the last few days have reflected that passion through candid and constructive dialogue."