Farmers’ arguments for more ethanol are no longer valid


The outcry that farmers need to see an increase in corn ethanol consumption to offset the negative impact of the trade war rings kinda like Senator Elizabeth Warren saying that for any problem, “I have a plan for that.” Things don’t add up. On the other hand, as Fort Myer shows, boat show successes still do.

On the ethanol front, some $20 billion dollars (expected to rise to $25 billion) in aid for farmers to offset the trade war impact is headed to corn-growing states under an order by President Donald Trump. The president bypassed Congress, which considers all farm supports its purview, and ordered the farm payments. So, while the Environmental Protection Agency is currently pondering the demand by ethanol producers for a 770 billion-gallon annual increase in ethanol to the nation’s gas supply, the argument that the increase is needed to help farmers hurt by the trade war no longer holds water (like ethanol does).

It’s another compelling reason for the EPA to reject the current additional ethanol proposal and, further, recognize that the nation’s Renewable Fuel Standard needs revision. Any decision to increase ethanol will put our boater customers at more serious risk of engine damage due to misfuelling, something that can only get worse if there’s more ethanol in our fuel supply.

Interestingly, to go around Congress, the administration has cited a 1940s law passed after the Great Depression. It is generally believed that no previous president has actually ever used that law as a basis for making direct payments to farmers. Trump’s move parallels President Obama’s bailout of the auto industry after the 2008 recession, even though this will cost about twice that amount.

So, let’s recap: The farmers will get billions in cash supports. The EPA can now deny any current proposal for increased ethanol. Boating families will face less risk of damage and safety from misfuelling. All reasonable lawmakers should acknowledge the need to move on, revising the Renewable Fuel Standard. It could add up to a win-win-win.



Seems like everyone was a winner at the 47th Annual Fort Myers Boat Show that wrapped up last week on Florida’s west coast. The show takes over the historic downtown Fort Myers riverfront, which has been undergoing major construction of a new hotel and other facilities adjacent to the show area.

“We’ve been successfully working around the construction for a couple of years,” says show manager John Good, “and, happily, this is the last year. Next year everything will be completed and our show footprint will undergo new and exciting improvements.”


Meanwhile, the construction hasn’t stopped the crowds from coming as this year’s attendance rose in the perfect 80-degree weather. Attendance was up 8 percent this year, following a double-digit increase last year. Show reports from major exhibitors reflected a continuing strong sales picture for the industry, Good also noted.

One interesting show promotion this year included a buy-one, get-one food offer printed on the back of show admission tickets for any of 7 Kerns-owned restaurants around downtown. Kerns has reported a big increase in weekend business in all the restaurants, documenting the positive impact the boat show has on the Fort Myers community.


Overall, the show featured 200-plus boats in the water and about 400 on land, more than 100 accessory displays and a large Fishin’ Village with daily seminars.

The final in-water show of the industry’s fall circuit that began back on the Great Lakes in late August will open its gates Thursday — the 41st annual St. Petersburg Power & Sailboat Show (December 5-8). It’s expected to be another winner, reintroducing the Cruising and Sailing Seminars, the Hook The Future Kids’ Fishing Clinics, and more. 


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