Tough times for our local Ohio farmers

It’s a challenging time for local Ohio farmers. Bad weather and a steep drop in farm income have been hammering rural communities. Biofuel production is a rare bright spot, driving demand for corn, but that’s now at risk too.

U.S. ethanol consumption dropped for the first time in 20 years, affecting thousands of jobs in Ohio alone. Overall, farm income has plummeted 49 percent since the end of 2018.

Among the culprits are small refinery exemptions (SREs). These waivers give oil companies a pass under the Renewable Fuel Standard. By law, these SREs are reserved for small refineries facing unique economic hardship, but the EPA has been handing them out to large oil corporations, such as ExxonMobil and Chevron. Media reports revealed that the Department of Energy could not identify any financial justification for many of the exemptions, which have already destroyed the market for more than four billion gallons of biofuel.

The EPA must stop letting a few well-connected oil companies trample over Ohio farmers and rural manufacturing. If the EPA won’t listen, then President Trump and our leaders in Congress should step up and end the abuse.

Mike Scherger