Recent Press Releases

Senators Thune, Grassley Warn Administration Against Undermining American Farmers, Ethanol Industry

Warning Comes Days Before President is Expected to Announce U.S.-Brazil Ethanol Accord

March 7, 2007

Washington, DC —  Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) hosted a joint press conference call today and questioned a U.S.-Brazil ethanol accord, which President Bush is expected to announce while visiting Brazil this week. This accord threatens American farmers and our nation's ethanol industry.

"South Dakota and Iowa have spent years promoting and building an ethanol industry to reduce this nation's dependence on foreign energy. To put the great achievements of this industry at risk is unacceptable," Senator Thune said. "The goal of producing ethanol here in America is to replace imported oil with home-grown renewable fuel. Importing ethanol defeats this purpose. Now is not the time to shortchange American production of ethanol - especially as we work to commercialize cellulosic ethanol."

According to press accounts, the Bush administration and Brazil are discussing the possible construction of pilot ethanol plants in the Caribbean region. Any ethanol produced in such a plant or plants would be eligible to enter the United States duty-free under the Caribbean Basin Initiative. In this way, the proposed U.S.-Brazil partnership could possibly result in U.S. funds subsidizing the production of ethanol that would ultimately be destined for the U.S. market. This would be a step backward for U.S.

"Ethanol is not a diplomatic poker chip. It is a vital economic engine for farmers and small towns in places like South Dakota and Iowa. Using U.S. tax dollars to replace one source of foreign energy with another is not good policy or in America's best interest," said Thune.

Reid Jensen, President of the South Dakota Corn Growers, commented: "After being in Brazil and seeing first hand how their sugar-based ethanol is subsidized, I think Senator Thune is right to question the President's plan. We do not want to become dependent on foreign sources of renewable fuels."