The economy ground to a halt to slow the spread of COVID-19 ethanol production, use, and prices have fallen to record lows. Over half of U.S. ethanol facilities have idled or reduced output. EIA's Short-Term Energy Outlook for April forecasts ethanol use will fall by billions of gallons, implying corn demand for ethanol will decline by at least a billion bushels for 2020.
USDA announced details of its Coronavirus Food Assistance Program to assist farmers, ranchers, and consumers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the program, the Trump administration is providing an initial aid package of roughly $16 billion in direct payments to farmers and ranchers and another $3 billion in food purchases. The aid package comes largely from the $9.5 billion in funds from the stimulus bill (CARES Act), as well as $6.5 billion from the Commodity Credit Corp. (CCC) and other funding sources. While ACE urged USDA to include assistance for ethanol producers in the initial round of funding, there wasn't enough funds to go beyond farmers and ranchers.
Another $14 billion in funds for the CCC will become available near the end of June. Let's continue to encourage USDA to provide emergency assistance to ethanol producers suffering from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic!