Corn farmers concerned after ethanol waivers granted by EPA

SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. After facing challenges from spring storms, tariffs and low grain prices, Kansas farmers face more adversity in the form of ethanol waivers.

Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allowed 31 oil refineries out of a requirement to blend ethanol and biodiesel into their fuel. The exemptions have driven 15 ethanol plans to close nationwide due to the lower demand for corn.

The waivers affect ethanol plants as across the country, ethanol production is slowing, including in Kansas. Long term, the waivers could impact Kansas farmers as waivers already have killed demand for more than 1 billion bushels of corn used to make ethanol.

Locally, ICM, Inc. which has built about 50 percent of Ethanol plants in the U.S. now calls on consumers to make conscious decisions at the gas pump. ICM has partnered with Jump Start, a gas station that sells higher blends of ethanol in its gasoline. This is one way ICM is trying to increase demand. It also gives consumers another choice at the pump.

"I would say the waivers are detrimental to the industry," says ICM CEO Dave Vandergriend. "We are taking it upon ourselves to say, 'hey, we are going to be active in the City of Wichita.' 'We are going to demonstrate value to the consumer.' 'We are going to show the consumer they have choices, and those choices are good for the environment and good for their pocketbook.'"