Triple Whammy of RFS Abuse, Closed Global Markets, and COVID-19 Leads to Significant Reduction in Iowa Ethanol Production in 2020

Contact: Cassidy Walter

JOHNSTON, IA – Compared to 2019, Iowa ethanol production fell 500 million gallons, or 12 percent, in 2020 as a result of dramatic demand destruction resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, trade disputes around the globe, and illegal exemptions granted from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Producing only 3.7 billion gallons, 2020 was the second year in a row that Iowa ethanol production dropped following 2018’s record of 4.35 billion gallons.

Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw called on state and federal leaders to take action to grow demand in 2021.

“While a pandemic is unpredictable and trade disputes are difficult to resolve, there are steps that our leaders can take today to begin to heal the demand destruction done to Iowa’s ethanol producers,” Shaw said. “President Biden can instruct his EPA to properly enforce the RFS as Congress intended. Congress has the opportunity to ensure that any legislation they consider to reduce emissions is technology-neutral and provides biofuels — the only tool in our toolbox ready to reduce carbon emissions on a grand scale today — a level playing field.

“We also believe that Midwestern states should not cede the fuel policy debate to the East and West coasts. We are seeing aggressive attempts on both coasts to ignore science and push low carbon biofuels out of the picture in favor of electric vehicle mandates. Here in Iowa, we will work with Governor Kim Reynolds and the legislature to continue to create growth opportunities for biofuels use.”

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association represents the state’s liquid renewable fuels industry and works to foster its growth. Iowa is the nation’s leader in renewable fuels production with 42 ethanol refineries capable of producing 4.5 billion gallons annually – including 34 million gallons of annual cellulosic ethanol production capacity – and 11 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce over 400 million gallons annually. For more information, visit the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association website at: