U.S. Representative Abby Finkenauer heard from officials at Big River Resources in Dyersville what they want when it comes to ethanol: an even playing field.

The 1st District Congresswoman visited the Dyersville facility May 28 after visiting Western Dubuque Biodiesel in Farley earlier in the day.

Before touring the Dyersville plant, Finkenauer spoke with company and industry officials. Big River Resources Chief Operating Officer Jim Leiting shared with Finkenauer how important the ethanol industry is to Iowa and the Midwest.

Leiting said the Dyersville facility employs 50 workers with an average pay of $22 per hour plus benefits.

According to the company website, Big River Resources “consumes 39 million bushels of corn from the region and provides environmentally friendly, clean, renewable fuels and 350,000 tons each year of valuable high quality livestock feed for local, regional and national markets.”

That feed, knows as dried distillers grain (DDG) is used to feed cattle, hogs and poultry.

Discussion turned to the renewable fuel standards (RFS), with Leiting asking Finkenauer, “If 100% ethanol can be burned in vehicles in Brazil, why can’t we burn 25% here in the United States?”

The current percentage of ethanol that can be burned in vehicles in the United States is 15 percent.

Leiting said the oil industry controls the fuel market, making it harder for ethanol to compete.

“The RFS simply allows for market penetration and creates an obligation,” he explained. “It’s not a mandate but it opens the doors to a closed market. That’s all we want is a level playing field. We can economically produce fuel for this country that is lower carbon. We just need a level field to market our fuel.”

Finkenauer said it’s critical the biofuels industry is supported. “We need to make sure we are doing all we can to support those industries because they directly impact our economy here in Iowa.”

She said farmers in Iowa continue to feel the pressure due to low prices.

“Our farmers are getting hit on all sides with uncertain markets due to the trade war that has gone on for a year now. Our biodiesel industry that our soybean growers rely on and our ethanol industry our corn growers rely on are more important than ever.”

She said she would take what she heard back to Washington. “The impact this industry has on our economy in Iowa and our small towns is the backbone of who we are. To be back and hear from the folks who are on the ground living this every day and to be able to take their stories back to Washington is one of my favorite parts of my job.”