Vilsack Defends Administration’s Ethanol Policy, Climate-Smart Programs

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack defended the Biden Administration’s approach to supporting family farmers and the biofuels industry.  Vilsack touted the department’s Climate Smart Agriculture partnerships during his remarks to Farm Progress Show attendees Wednesday afternoon, which he highlighted again when speaking to reporters afterward.

USDA’s Climate Smart partnerships are funded in part though several measures passed by Congress last year, along with available funds in the Commodity Credit Corporation.  Usage of CCC has drawn criticism from a number of lawmakers, and Vilsack stressed the need for Congress to keep the ability to use this funding in place.

Vilsack was questioned about the Biden administration’s continued push for electric vehicles, potentially at the expense of biofuels.  When asked about the lack of support for E-85 vehicles, Vilsack launched a defense of the administration’s actions supporting biofuels.

With respect to the summertime E-15 waiver, the Trump Administration had initially issued a waiver in 2019 allowing year-round sales.  However, the waiver was struck down in 2021 by the DC Court of Appeals.  Vilsack also rejected a claim that tax credits available for purchasing an electric vehicle gave them an advantage over flex-fuel vehicles over the vehicle’s lifetime.

Vilsack appeared Wednesday with Central Illinois Democratic Congresswoman Nikki Budzinski, whose district includes Decatur.  The secretary visited that morning with Budzinski’s ag advisory council.