Lawmakers Call for Biofuels Market Expansion with Brazil

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In March, 20 lawmakers led by Representatives Darin LaHood, R-Illinois, and Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, submitted a formal complaint to US Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urging for greater action in developing new markets for biofuels. In their letters, the lawmakers urged the Biden administration to work to repeal Brazil’s tariff on American Ethanol.

Big River Resources President and CEO David Zimmerman explains that the rules in place now are ‘lopsided’ when looking at a fairness standpoint.

“We’ve had an adversarial relationship with Brazil over the years at times,” says Zimmerman. “And part of it is there’s no reciprocity between these government programs. Brazil has an 18% blend of ethanol going to Brazil. Currently, they have their decarbonization program called RenovaBio where American producers are not allowed to participate. At the same time, the Brazilians are allowed to participate in the renewable fuel standard, and they’re also allowed to supply Brazilian feedstock to our just getting started SAF industry.”

Brazilian ethanol imports are incentivized under the US Renewable Fuels Standard. Local farmer and former American Soybean Association chairman Ron Moore shares an example of this by referring to an ethanol plant in the south.

“There’s a plant in Georgia that is making sustainable aviation fuel but the feedstock is sugarcane from Brazil- ethanol made from sugarcane from Brazil, which is contradictory to supporting our agriculture.”

Both Moore and Zimmerman spoke about Brazil’s trade and ethanol policy during the 2024 FS Spring AG Roundtables.

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