- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 29, 2019

President Trump said Thursday he’s preparing to announce a “giant package” to boost demand for ethanol, responding to rising concerns in rural America about the administration’s exemptions for refineries from blending biofuels, which is required under the nation’s ethanol mandate.

“The Farmers are going to be so happy when they see what we are doing for Ethanol, not even including the E-15, year around, which is already done,” the president tweeted. “It will be a giant package, get ready! At the same time I was able to save the small refineries from certain closing. Great for all!”

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told farmers and producers in Illinois on Wednesday that Mr. Trump soon will announce a plan to “mitigate” the loss of an estimated 4 billion gallons of ethanol from refinery exemptions granted by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Mr. Perdue said one proposal would strengthen infrastructure to allow greater use of E15, a higher ethanol blend of gasoline that had been barred during the summer. Mr. Trump lifted that restriction this year.

The Renewable Fuel Standard requires refiners to blend biofuels into their gasoline or buy credits to fund other refiners that can. The administration has issued 85 ethanol waivers for small refineries since Mr. Trump took office, and the biofuels industry says the exemptions are causing 15 ethanol plants to close nationwide.

Farmers also are feeling the squeeze through lower demand for corn, at the same time they’ve lost access to the Chinese market due to Beijing’s tariff war with the U.S.

The president said Thursday that China “plays a vicious game” by imposing tariffs on U.S. agricultural products. The administration has provided up to $28 billion over two years for farmers hurt by the trade war.

“They’ve targeted our farmers and I’ve made up for it,” Mr. Trump told Fox News Radio’s “The Brian Kilmeade Show.”

He said of China, “They know that the farmers like Trump, and Trump loves the farmers. I love what they do. They’re incredible people. They don’t want any subsidies. They don’t want handouts, but they also know something has to be done with China and they’re with me all the way.”

Mr. Trump said his administration is still negotiating with China on a trade deal.

“I have talks scheduled,” he told Mr. Kilmeade. “There is a talk scheduled for today at a different level. And yes, they’ve been talking and the ‘fake news’ tried to say we weren’t talking last week and then the vice-premier of China said ‘No, no, we have been talking.’”

The president also cited a new trade deal that he struck with Japan last weekend, saying the terms should be completed within a month.

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