In Iowa’s 4th District, prioritizing ethanol is focus for Feenstra and Scholten

Green Plains has an ethanol plant in Superior, Iowa. (Photo by Perry Beeman/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Iowa’s ethanol industry is suffering worse losses than economists originally predicted, increasing pressure on Congress and President Donald Trump’s administration to protect the Renewable Fuel Standard and provide aid to struggling farmers and ethanol producers.

In northwest Iowa, where the agricultural economy is of prime importance, both Randy Feenstra and J.D. Scholten said they want to see more support for the renewable fuel standard and Iowa’s farmers. But they differ on the policies and methods to get there.

Fourth District candidates J.D. Scholten (left) and Randy Feenstra (right) debated during a televised broad on WHO-TV Wednesday. (Screenshot of debate on WHO-TV)

Feenstra said one of the ways to improve the environment is to advocate and expand the use of ethanol and biodiesels across the country, calling ethanol the “cleanest form of energy,” available. 

He does not want to impose more environmental regulations on Iowa farmers and said he believes most of them are already voluntarily working to keep the state’s waterways and soil clean.

“Farmers have taken it upon themselves to create a cleaner environment,” Feenstra said. “Sometimes, it doesn’t get talked about.”

Scholten said large, multinational corporations are the biggest culprits that hurt the environment and antitrust laws need to be enforced to “level the playing field.”

“Our land, our dirt is our black gold,” Scholten said.

Below are the candidates’ stances on ethanol and the environment.



  • Expand the sale of a 15% blend of ethanol, known as E-15, in gas pumps nationwide. The current standard is E-10.
  • Expand the Renewable Fuel Standard to require more than 15 billion gallons of ethanol and biodiesel to be blended into the nation’s fuel supply.


Create volunteer programs for farmers who want to take it upon themselves to improve the environment.



  • Hold the Environmental Protection Agency accountable and require companies to follow the Renewable Fuel Standard.
  • Prioritize ethanol plants in a COVID-19 stimulus bill.


  • Lower the carbon fuel standard.
  • Enforce antitrust laws to hold large companies accountable for environmental regulations.
  • Create programs that encourage farmers to improve the environment, including funding for farmers to create buffer strips and cover crops.