Ethanol versus Big Oil politics is apparently fueling a fight in the U.S. Senate over the president’s nomination of Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey to a top USDA post. Northey’s nomination was blocked last week by oil-patch Republican Ted Cruz of Texas. Another Republican, Mike Lee of Utah, had lifted his ‘hold’ on the nomination.
But the Cruz ‘hold’ sparked accusations in the ethanol industry that Big Oil was looking for ‘payback,’ after ethanol-patch Iowan GOP Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst scored a huge win with the administration on the Renewable Fuel Standard. Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen had this.
EPA chief Scott Pruitt of oil-patch state Oklahoma backed off proposed RFS volume reductions after Midwest senators complained to President Trump and Pruitt. The senators said such cuts would break Trump’s vows before and after the election, to back the RFS. A Northey nomination loss could be a double loss for Iowa’s Grassley, whose grandson, Iowa State Representative Pat Grassley, was expected to succeed Northey as state ag secretary.
But RFA’s Dinneen predicts Northey’s nomination will ultimately be approved, arguing he will be “far too great an asset” to Secretary Sonny Perdue, in a new role as Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation.
Meantime, the Senate confirmed Nebraska Ag Director Greg Ibach as USDA Undersecretary of Marketing and Regulatory Programs. Ibach will develop policy and oversee operations of AMS, APHIS, and the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration.