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Biofuel producing plants still waiting for promised COVID-19 aid

WASHINGTON, D.C. – After announcing $700 million in COVID-19 aid to biofuel plants in states like South Dakota, no funds have been released.  It’s prompted eight Republican senators on Monday to write Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack asking about why the millions in announced aid to biofuel plants has not been sent out.

The senators included the delegations from Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota — all of which are major biofuel-producing states.

USDA announced in June that the aid would go out to ethanol plants within 60 days. In the letter, the GOP senators stated, “It is simply unacceptable that it has been over 120 days since your announcement and biofuel producers are still waiting.”

Biofuel plants reduced production or were idled during parts of 2020 because of declines in sales during COVID-19 lockdowns. Vilsack and USDA announced the $700 million in aid back on June 15 to help offset some of the market impacts that led to dramatic drops in fuel markets. Lawmakers wrote the aid into a funding bill last December to ensure USDA provide aid to biofuel producers.

Senators on the letter included Iowa Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley; Kansas Sens. Jerry Moran and Roger Marshall; Nebraska Sens. Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse; and South Dakota Sens. John Thune and Mike Rounds.

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