New program geared toward ethanol, biodiesel use (Keeping the Farm)
(Editor’s note: Denise Lovelady is the state director for USDA Rural Development for Maryland and Delaware.)
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has certainly brought new challenges and sweeping change to our nation, as well as to USDA Rural Development.
We have had to substitute our physical connections with virtual connections, but I can report that we were ready for the challenge.
It is remarkable how quickly USDA adapted to this new way of life.
USDA Rural Development has successfully transitioned to an enterprise-wide remote operation, so delivering our programs and providing great customer service have continued unabated.
Saying all that is a great lead-in for me to make you aware of a new program on the horizon that Rural Development will be rolling out in a few months.
Let me introduce you to the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program.
USDA Rural Development will announce availability of funds up to $100 million in competitive grants to eligible entities for activities related to higher blends of fuel ethanol and biodiesel.
The announcement will provide specific program information and requirements.
U.S. farmers are producing record amounts of feedstocks for renewable fuels.
However, lower commodity prices, paired with this record production, have caused uncertain times for U.S. feedstocks producers.
Biofuels contribute to energy security, reduce air pollution, support rural economic development, and are an important market for U.S. feedstocks producers.
USDA designed the HBIIP to increase availability of higher blends of ethanol, such as E15 and biodiesel (B20).
This increase will provide consumers more choices when they fill up at the pump, including environmentally friendly fuel with decreased emissions.
This will drive demand for our farmers and improve air quality.
According to the American Coalition for Ethanol, E15 can be used in 90 percent of the cars on the road in the United States today.
Eligible applicants will include transportation fueling and biodiesel distribution facilities.
These grants will lower the out-of-pocket costs for businesses to install and/or upgrade fuel dispensers, infrastructure (including storage tanks and systems) and related equipment.
Since the federal government approved E15 in 2011, consumer use has grown consistently, and especially so since the Environmental Protection Agency approved E15 for year-round use in 2019. The Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program is expected to grow the ethanol market to 15 billion gallons in 2020.
In February 2020, Secretary Perdue unveiled the Agricultural Innovation Agenda, a department-wide initiative to align resources, programs and research to position American agriculture to better meet future global demands.
Investing in the increased availability of innovative fuels for American consumers supports this vision.
To receive additional information for HBIIP funding, visi: rd.usda.gov/hbiip and subscribe to updates or you can contact me, Denise Lovelady, USDA Rural Development State Director DE/MD at email@example.com.