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Corn growers worry about price decline if renewable fuel standard sees cut

By Mikkel Pates

FARGO, N.D. — Crop farmers in the northern corn belt who have benefited from ethanol targets are putting on a push to save the current renewable fuel standard from proposed cuts by the Environmental Protection Agency.

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The proposal would cut the 2014 corn ethanol fuel requirement to 13 billion gallons, from the 14.4 billion gallons the RFS otherwise would have required. The deadline for comments to the EPA is Jan. 28, unless extended. A decision is expected this spring.

“American farmers have produced a record corn crop of 14 billion bushels, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates, and corn prices are falling and currently stand close to where they were when the RFS was enacted in its current form in 2007,” says the website of the North Dakota Corn Growers Association. Farmers need $4.25 per bushel to cover current production costs, and changing the law could drop prices to $3.50 per bushel.

Minnesota ranks fourth in ethanol production, behind Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois, with 22 plants and more than 1.014 billion gallons of ethanol in 2013, of which more than half is exported. South Dakota has 15 plants with 1.012 million gallons of production.

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