Reynolds, Naig Introduce Program to Help Fuel Retailers Recover from COVID-19-Related Demand Disruptions

State will allocate $7 million in CARES Act funding to help fuel retailers add, increase renewable fuels offerings

DES MOINES, Iowa (Aug. 25, 2020) – Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig introduced the Renewable Fuel Retailer Recovery Program today to help gas stations, truck stops and other fuel retailers recover from lost demand caused by COVID-19. Iowa fuel retailers that dispense, or have plans to dispense, ethanol blends of E15 or higher or biodiesel blends of B11 or higher, and biodiesel terminal facilities are eligible to apply for the relief funds. Gov. Reynolds has allocated $7 million of CARES Act money to support the Renewable Fuel Retailer Recovery Program.

As Americans began spending more time at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, fuel demands dropped drastically. As a result, more than 70 ethanol plants across the country idled and 70 more cut production capacity, jeopardizing jobs in rural communities and further reducing commodity prices. As of April 10, national ethanol production had dropped 44 percent compared to the same time in 2019, according to a report by the Renewable Fuels Association.

“Iowa is at the foundation of our global food supply chain and the epicenter of the renewable fuels industry,” said Gov. Reynolds. “COVID-19 and a devastating derecho dealt a major blow to everything from the demand for ethanol to the supply of meat on grocery store shelves. But just as important are the livelihoods of thousands of Iowa farm families, agricultural industries and the communities they support. Today’s investment reflects the critical role Iowa’s ag industry has in our state's overall economic recovery.”

“The renewable fuels industry is critical to Iowa’s economy. It provides jobs in rural communities, additional markets for agricultural products, and gives consumers greater access to affordable, cleaner-burning fuels,” said Secretary Naig. “I know fuel retailers and the renewable fuels industry, like so many others, have a long road to recovery. I’m grateful to Gov. Reynolds for making additional funding available to support ethanol and biodiesel retailers as they work to recover from this pandemic.”

To qualify, applicants must demonstrate a COVID-19-related business interruption or a loss of business income related to COVID-19. Projects considered may include, but are not limited to, expenses incurred for the construction, installation, upgrade and retrofit of equipment associated with the sale of renewable fuels. Replacement equipment must dispense a higher percentage blend of ethanol or biodiesel than the existing equipment, for example, dispense E15 instead of E10.

Retailers may be awarded up to a $30,000 grant per project and may submit applications for more than one project. Application forms can be downloaded at iowaagriculture.gov/grants. Applications should be submitted electronically to paul.ovrom@iowaagriculture.gov. The Department will begin reviewing applications on Monday, Sept. 14, 2020. Additional project applications will be accepted as long as funds remain.

Questions about the program should be directed to Paul Ovrom, the program administrator, at 515-242-6239 or paul.ovrom@iowaagriculture.gov.

Iowa leads the nation in renewable fuels production. The state is home to 43 ethanol refineries capable of producing over 4.5 billion gallons annually and 11 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce nearly 400 million gallons annually, according to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. 

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About the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship

Led by Secretary Mike Naig, the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship serves the rural and urban residents that call Iowa home. Through its 12 diverse bureaus, the Department ensures animal health, food safety and consumer protection. It also promotes conservation efforts to preserve our land for the next generation. Learn more at iowaagriculture.gov.

Media Contact:
Keely Coppess
Communications Director
(515) 326-1616           
Keely.Coppess@IowaAgriculture.gov