State of the Union Talks Trade and Biofuels

Cindy Zimmerman

President Obama made some folks in the ag industry happy with his State of the Union (SOTU) address Tuesday talking about the importance of both biofuels and free trade agreements.

Corn farmers and representatives of the renewable fuels industry were especially pleased to hear the president say that America needs to “break our dependence on oil with biofuels.”

Obama SOTU 2011“The success of all biofuels hinges on the success of ethanol from corn – on the growth of an ethanol industry that is leading the way, sustainably increasing in economic, environmental and energy efficiency,” said National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) Chairman Darrin Ihnen of South Dakota.

Tom Buis, CEO of the ethanol organization Growth Energy, released a video statement in reaction to the SOTU. “Mr. President, thank you again for providing leadership,” said Buis. “The idea is to move this nation forward and we stand ready to work with you and Congress to help achieve these goals because we all know it’s best for America.”

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) was pleased to hear the president address “the sacred cow of oil subsidies” to pay for his initiatives, saying “instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s.” RFA’s Matt Hartwig noted that there’s no need to wait until tomorrow. “There are great technologies available to us today. Current ethanol and biofuel production is already contributing to our nation’s prosperity by adding jobs and reducing our reliance on foreign oil.”

On the issue of trade, President Obama called on Congress to pass the recently finalized agreement with South Korea “as soon as possible,” something that 60 food and agricultural groups and companies encouraged lawmakers to do in a letter sent Monday. “We are hopeful President Obama truly makes the immediate implementation of this trade agreement a priority,” said National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Steve Foglesong.

American Farm Bureau Federation president Bob Stallman noted trade agreements pending with Korea, Colombia and Panama would add an additional $3 billion to the U.S. economy through agricultural trade. “These trade agreements are not only important to the bottom line of America’s farmers and ranchers but the economic health of our rural communities and the overall U.S. economy,” said Stallman.

Read the full SOTU transcript here.

Corn, Ethanol, Government, Growth Energy, NCBA, NCGA, RFA