Increasing demand for ethanol may help farmers during tough times

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WHITE CLOUD, Kan. -- Tariffs may be hurting farmers, but a government decision to put more corn in your gasoline may offer them some relief.

"Everyone is affected by the trade deal," Ken McCauley said, who serves of the board of the Kansas Corn Growers Association. "Farmers have to look at it as the fact that we are not the only part of this thing."

President Donald Trump's decision to expand the use of ethanol in our fuel is being cheered by farmers who've been hurt by the trade war with China.
Corn growers say the move will help boost farm incomes.

"We've been working on E-15 for the past 5 years, trying to get it so it can be sold all year long," McCauley said.

For the past two or three years, farmers McCauley have had a hard time making money growing corn, with depressed prices at $3.50 a bushel or lower.

That why corn growers have been pushing for increasing the amount of ethanol sold at gas pumps from 10 percent to 15 percent.

"It provides cleaner air for Kansas City," McCauley said. "It saves you money. E15 is a nickel cheaper across the board no matter where I fill up. And I fill up with a lot of it. It's a good, solid, new type of gasoline that saves you money to boot."

Increasing the demand for corn may help boost farm incomes at a time when tariffs and threats of tariffs have farmers concerned about their foreign markets.

McCauley farms about 5,000 acres in northeast Kansas. He was happy to learn the Trump withdraw his threat of tariffs against Mexico, after reaching an agreement to influence immigration.

"Mexico is our number one buyer of corn," he said. "That’s just super important, especially in Kansas because it's a straight shot down to Mexico. So we are very happy about that. We are calling on Congress now to get that ratified,(USMCA) get that on the books."

McCauley believes many farmers will continue to back Trump in his effort to correct unfair trade relationships. And he believes in the long term, there will be demand for ethanol in polluted nations, like China, that need cleaner burning fuels.

Some environmentalists oppose increasing ethanol in our fuel because recent studies suggest burning more ethanol can increase ground level ozone and encourage farmers to put more wild land into production, raising greenhouse gas emissions.

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