Focus on Rural America Co-Founder and former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge held an online press conference with rural leaders in Iowa and Washington, D.C. On the call, the National Farmers Union President, Rob Larew, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor, former USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, and former Lt. Governor Judge called on the Administration to support rural economies and ensure they have a fighting chance to recover from the global coronavirus pandemic and the social distancing necessary to protect Americans and flatten the curve.
“Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, our rural economies were struggling. In 2018 Iowa lost $2 billion in gross product to trade disruption. In 2019, 44% of growers across America struggled to cover their costs. Over the past three years, the President and Administration have given small refinery waivers to companies as big as Exxon and Chevron, which diverted more than four billion gallons of biofuels from the market. It is time we do all we can to protect Americans from the coronavirus and work to ensure every part of our economy has a chance to recover from this pandemic. If the President is going to sit down with oil executives to discuss direct payments, he should be doing the same thing with the biofuel industry. Everyone must be represented. We cannot provide a bailout to airlines, cruise ships, and oil companies and expect our economic engine to get back in order.” – Patty Judge, Cofounder of Focus on Rural America, former Iowa Lt. Governor and Secretary of Agriculture.
“Over the last several years, chronic overproduction, severely depressed prices, a global trade war, and extreme weather events have stretched small- and medium-sized family farms thin, pushing many out of business. This financial strain has been exacerbated by consumption shifts and supply chain disruptions related to the coronavirus pandemic. In the coming weeks and months, the Administration’s response will determine whether family farmers and rural communities can weather these challenges or if there will be an even greater wave of consolidation across agriculture.” – Rob Larew, President of the National Farmers Union
“Between fuel demand dropping, government uncertainty, and an economic downturn driven by coronavirus – farmers and biofuel producers have been stretched beyond the breaking point. Nearly half of the biofuel industry is already offline, which is causing a ripple effect throughout rural communities. This is a highly skilled workforce rural America cannot afford to lose and we’re calling on the USDA and this Administration to step in to address this threat.” – Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy
“The coronavirus is hitting and will continue to hit every sector of our economy, including the agriculture industries on which our rural communities rely. Twenty percent of the American economy is connected agriculture and today those producing, processing, and retailing our food supply are on the front line. We must help them continue to provide Americans with a safe supply of food, while also ensuring that our commodity growers, ethanol producers, and other biomanufacturers have access to the market. It is time for the Administration to get creative to minimize barriers and maximize assistance. The USDA could have a profound impact on rural economies if they help move our stable food supply to areas of demand in need of food, and use the Commodity Credit Corporation to mitigate the harm this pandemic is having on biofuel producers and other rural job creators.” – Tom Vilsack, former Secretary of USDA