Vilsack to Address Commodity Classic

vilsackccThe growers of the Nation’s biggest crops will once again host the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for their biggest meeting of the year. For the fifth time in a row, Tom Vilsack will deliver the keynote address to Commodity Classic, the annual convention and trade show for corn, soybean, wheat and sorghum growers. This news releases says Vilsack speaks to an expected crowd of more than 6,000 during the event’s General Session on Friday, Feb. 28, in San Antonio, Texas.

“We are honored to welcome Secretary Vilsack-someone who has been a strong advocate and voice for agriculture-to a conference that is both focused on and led by farmers,” said American Soybean Association President Ray Gaesser. “As we face many challenges in this industry throughout this next year- trade agreements and access, conservation and water quality, moving the RFS forward and access to innovative technology-we are excited to hear the secretary speak on these issues and other important topics that impact farmers who grow the nation’s food.”

“Secretary Vilsack has done a lot to support our growers, and to encourage all farmers to speak out and represent their industry at a time when the general public is more removed than ever from the farms that feed them,” said National Corn Growers Association President Martin Barbre. “We’re looking forward to his visit to Commodity Classic so he can speak with our growers and learn more about our great efforts to rebuild consumer trust in what we do.”

The 19th annual Commodity Classic is Feb. 27-March 1, 2014, along the banks of the famous River Walk at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Tex. Your ZimmComm New Media team will be there, including myself, bringing you the latest from this annual meeting of the National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers and National Sorghum Producers, America’s largest farmer-led, farmer-focused convention and trade show.

Check out the 2014 Commodity Classic website for additional information.

More Corn for Export

corn-bargeTo the surprise of traders, USDA increased the projection for U.S. corn exports this marketing year, lowering ending stocks in the latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate (WASDE) report.

U.S. feed grain ending stocks for 2013/14 are expected lower with a 150-million-bushel increase projected for corn exports.

Jack Scoville of the Price Futures Group discussed the estimates during the Minneapolis Grain Exchange conference call on the report today. “USDA did throw us some curve balls,” he said. “Even though most of the trade was expecting a pretty neutral report, we did get some surprises,” particularly the magnitude of the increase for corn exports. MGEX crop call with Jack Scoville, Price Futures Group

Jack also talked about wheat exports being increased by 10 million bushels as “railroad backlogs and other logistical problems slow Canadian wheat shipments to Pacific Coast terminals and encourage additional shipments of Hard Red Spring (HRS) wheat into the U.S. market.”

That was discussed on a MGEX call when the Stats Canada field crop report was released on February 4 by Wayne Palmer and Brian Voth of Agri-Trend. “Canada is experiencing a transportation debacle,” said Palmer. “We cannot get grain from the country to the port in a timely fashion. We are so far behind we will likely not catch up until the end of this year.” MGEX Canada crop call with Agri-Trend

Popcorn Has Been Changed

PopCornersIt looks like someone decided it was time to change the popcorn. That would be Popcorners. I just found them on the snack tray here at the MapShots Customer Conference.

Our Popcorners family proudly presents our wholesome, delicious new shape of popcorn to your family.

Here at Popcorners we have spent a great deal of time tasting, testing and perfecting what we genuinely believe will be a new generation of popcorn.

Now, take your time and enjoy all our classic and delicious flavors. We are going to be around to honorably carry on the traditional goodness of snacking on popcorn.

These are very good! I tried the caramel flavor and had to get a second package. There are lots of flavors and recipes. You can also purchase them online. These are also available at AMC Theaters as part of their smart snacks lineup. I will still eat “regular” plain old popcorn but will also look to enjoying these again.

GMO Coalition for Safe Food Formed

A diverse group of industry and non-governmental organizations today announced the formation of a new coalition dedicated to the advancement of a federal solution on the labeling of food products derived from genetically modified ingredients (GMOs).

cfsafThe goal of the “Coalition for Safe Affordable Food” is to urge Congress to seek a federal solution that would establish standards for the safety and labeling of food and beverage products made with GMOs.

Representatives of some of the participating groups announced the coalition during a media conference call today – including Grocery Manufacturers Association, National Council of Farm Cooperatives, National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), American Soybean Association and the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).

“American families deserve safe, abundant and affordable food,” said NCGA President and Illinois farmer Martin Barbre. “And America’s farmers rely on this proven technology to protect crops from insects, weeds and drought, enabling us to deliver on that promise and to do so through sustainable means. A federal solution on GMO labeling will bolster consumer confidence in the safety of American food by reaffirming the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) role as the nation’s foremost authority on the use and labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients.”

Listen to the conference call here: GMO Coalition Announcement

Farmers in the SOTU

sotu-2014It is rare for agriculture to even be mentioned in a State of the Union address, but President Obama brought attention to the hardworking farmers of our country in the opening minute of SOTU 2014.

“A farmer prepared for the spring after the strongest five-year stretch of farm exports in our history,” said the president, with a split screen image of a farmer in a corn field to accompany his words. It was one the examples President Obama used of “citizens, who make the state of our union strong.”

The word farmer was mentioned a second time in the SOTU as the president quoted the governor of Kentucky about the importance of health care coverage to the people of his state.

Agricultural organizations noted the president’s comments on immigration reform, tax reform, trade promotion authority, and energy security. “The American Farm Bureau Federation welcomes President Obama’s call in his State of the Union address for Congress to pass immigration reform,” said president Bob Stallman. “Many farmers rely on an immigrant labor force, and, without reform, growers will begin to plant less labor-intensive crops or go off shore.”

“It was great to hear President Obama talk about the importance of an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy policy,” commented National Corn Growers President Martin Barbre. “And you can’t have such a policy without biofuels. So, we call on his Administration to back away from its irresponsible proposal to reduce the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

Both NCGA and AFBF were also pleased to hear President Obama mention the need for improving waterways and ports. “We’ll need Congress to protect more than three million jobs by finishing transportation and waterways bills this summer,” said the president.

What’s New Sessions at Commodity Classic

Commodity Classic LogoAgriculture’s newest, most innovative products and services will be showcased at the What’s New sessions at the 2014 Commodity Classic. The 19th Annual Commodity Classic is Feb. 27-March 1, along the banks of the famous River Walk in San Antonio, TX.

“If you’re coming to Commodity Classic hoping to learn and gain some new ideas to take back to your farm, you’ll want to mark your calendar for the What’s New sessions,” said Commodity Classic Co-Chairman Wyatt Whitford. “These sessions offer a sneak peek at the new technology and products out on the trade show floor and an opportunity to ask the experts questions.”

Topics of the sessions include: tractor and combine header technologies, soil fertility trends, new developments in seeds to help manage pests, technology tools for the farm and tools to optimize seed selection for each field.

These sessions are scheduled for Friday, Feb. 28 and Saturday, March 1. Each session is 40 minutes long and allows attendees to learn about the topic in an in-depth manner.

Companies selected to present include Case IH, DuPont Pioneer, John Deere, Monsanto, The Mosaic Company, Syngenta, The Climate Corporation, Trimble and United Soybean Board. The products and services are chosen by the grower community to ensure they are truly something new to the industry.

More information on the What’s New sessions and other events at Commodity Classic can be found here.

Ag Weather Advisor Keeps Farmers Up to Date

Screen Shot 2014-01-08 at 1.27.45 PMThe “polar vortex” seems to be a hot topic the last couple of days and that means farmers have to work extra hard to stay updated on what to expect while they prepare for planting. The NCGA-FMC Ag Weather Advisor, prepared by Blue Water Outlook, is a special free member benefit that can help growers stay a step ahead.

“The weather that is occurring this winter are setting the stage for spring and summer growing conditions,” said John Feldt of Blue Water Outlook. “The NCGA-FMC Ag Weather Advisor provides valuable insight, analysis and information not easily found elsewhere on the key factors shaping the weather right now and well into the future. This information can help growers make critical weather-related decisions throughout the entire year.”

Subscribers to this free service receive each week the BWO Agriculture Weather Outlook that will help farmers understand how much rain to expect, days in advance. BWO is a 10-minute video briefing discussing precipitation and temperature trends for the up-coming week. Subscribers will also receive a pre and post-event analysis of precipitation events.

Ethanol is a Win for Illinois, A Win for Agriculture

Illinois State Representative Donald Moffitt knows agriculture. He grew up on a family farm, on which his son still farms (and Don occasionally helps). This has been a huge asset for him in his role as state representative because agriculture is the number one industry in both his 74th District as well as the state of Illinois.

IL State Rep Donald MoffittRep Moffitt was serving in this role seven years ago when Patriot Renewable Fuels broke ground on their ethanol plant (and in November they broke ground on a biodiesel plant) and I asked him what the feelings were like about ethanol during that time. He said there was a lot of excitement and there still is a lot of excitement.

“We’d been hearing about ethanol. We knew as farmers and producers we wanted to encourage the use of ethanol,” said Rep. Moffitt. “We were trying to get acceptance of ethanol years ago and finally one comes to our area with the construction of Patriot Renewable Fuels. So it was genuine excitement.”

The excitement went way beyond farmers, explained Moffitt. First there were the construction jobs to build the plant and that brought a lot of jobs and economic activity to the area. Once the plant was running, there were the permanent jobs and then he noted there is the benefit to the community such as value added benefits to corn, for example. Producers are now able to get a higher price for their corn.

“What do farmers do when they have a little more money? They spend it. They spend it in our local communities. They spend it on farm equipment. The spend it at the hardware store. They buy a new truck,” explained Moffitt. “So it’s a win-win for our state, for our community, for agriculture and we need to have this type of diversity.”

He added that something he rarely hears others talk about is that Illinois is leader in the railroad industry. Ethanol transports its products (both the fuel and the food/DDGs) in unitrains (80 plus cars) and these two industries complement each other. “Agriculture is bringing more business to the railroads of our state and that’s important too,” added Moffitt. “And then the railroads are helping agriculture by giving them access to markets farther away.”

Rep. Moffitt stressed that biofuels is a national security issue. “The production of biofuels is actually a national security issue. Because we don’t want to be dependent on foreign countries for our energy supply. Not all of them are friendly to the United States. But the American farmer is always going to be our friend. They are always going to deliver a product that they want to sell.”

Listen to my interview with IL State Rep Donald Moffitt here who talks about the connection between ethanol, agriculture and national security: IL State Rep Moffitt: Ethanol is Still Exciting

Check out the Patriot Renewable Fuels photo album.

National Corn Yield Contest Winners for 2013

NCGA color logoAdvanced production techniques, informed growing practices and improved seed varieties helped corn growers achieve high yields in the National Corn Growers Association 2013 National Corn Yield Contest. Entrants continued to far surpass the national average corn yield, setting a contest record with a new all-time high yield of 454 bushels per acre. Additionally, a record five national entries surpassed the 400-plus bushel per acre mark.

The National Corn Yield Contest is in its 49th year and remains NCGA’s most popular program for members, setting a new participation record this year with 8,827 entries. This surpasses the previous record of 8,431 entries, set in 2011, and far outstrips the 8,263 entries received in 2012.

The 18 winners in six production categories had verified yields averaging more than 354.6 bushels per acre, compared to the projected national average of 160.4 bushels per acre in 2013. While there is no overall contest winner, yields from first, second and third place farmers overall production categories topped out at 454.9837.

Ag Industry Dealt a Blow from EPA

The agriculture industry has been dealt a blow according to Adam Nielsen, director of legislation and policy development for the Illinois Farm Bureau. Nielsen, who spends a significant amount of time promoting the agricultural industry in Washington, D.C., said the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed 2014 reduction of the amount of corn ethanol blended as part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is of great concern as is the lack of a five-year Farm Bill.

Adam Nielsen Illinois Farm Bureau“I think it’s time for those four tops to stop posturing and to finish the job,” said Nielsen when asked about the status of the Farm Bill while at a biodiesel groundbreaking and RFS roundtable event hosted by biofuel plant Patriot Renewable Fuels.  “And that’s to get back in a room and reach agreements on some of these issues that are considerable issues, but it’s not the first time a Farm Bill has ever been negotiated in this fashion and some of the people who are involved in this have been there before. So we’re all counting on them to be leaders right now.”

Nielsen said a five year farm bill is needed and the industry cannot afford another extension of one or two years. “The policies we have on the books right now reflect agriculture of the previous decade. We need a farm bill that reflects where we are today. I think they understand that and we’ve been patient for a long time, but our patience is beginning to run thin. And it is time for leaders to lead,” said Nielsen.

He noted that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and Farm Bill in some ways are tied together. Because the RFS drives the use of corn and soybeans there is no need for commodity supports. But if the bottom of the floor falls out on the RFS, then there would again be a need for commodity supports and this will typically be legislated through a Farm Bill.

When asked why the Farm Bill so so important and what’s at stake if one is not passed, Nielsen pointed out, “The Farm Bill provides a measure of national security, something we all take for granted. It guarantees the basic nutritional needs of Americans will be met. It really helps support the nation’s conservation goals. It keeps our soils healthy into the future. And then it provides a support for production.”

Finally, Nielsen said the Farm Bill is more than a farm bill. “It is a jobs bill for our economy. And this is what is at stake.”

Listen to my interview with Adam Nielsen here where he discusses both the Farm Bill as well as the need for the RFS to stay in tact and how the two bills are intertwined: Ag Industry Dealt a Blow from EPA

Check out the Patriot Renewable Fuels photo album.

ASTA CSS Offers Grain Markets Outlook

asta-css-basseOnce again this year at the ASTA CSS 2013, for the third year in a row now, AgResource Company president Dan Basse looked at the year in review for grain markets and gave his outlook for the future.

While there are bright spots, Dan’s overall outlook for the year ahead is pretty sobering, saying the good times may have come to an end for corn. “A year ago we had corn prices above $7 with flirtations to eight,” he said. “We’re now looking at Chicago markets with corn prices near four. We think the best we can do at least for the next 6-9 months is maybe getting back to something like four and a half.”

Basse points out that the United States only needs to produce a corn crop of 13 billion bushels to meet demand. “That’s the big concern for the US farmer down the road,” he said.

On kind of a bright side, Dan expects North America to be “energy self-sufficient by 2020″ but that is largely due to fracking to reach new deposits of crude oil and natural gas rather than biofuels. “Ethanol, which was deemed to be the savior from Mideast oil, is no longer going to have that spot at the table,” he said, adding that the industry has “reached its zenith.”

Basse covered a number of important topics in his presentation, including whether the bull market in ag commodities is coming to an end, the mature biofuels industry, pressure on farmers to plant less corn, the high cost of production for U.S. farmers, and – of course – the farm bill.

Listen to my interview for the condensed version and his 30 minute presentation for more details:
Interview with Dan Basse, AgResource
ASTA CSS presentation by Dan Basse, AgResource

2013 ASTA CSS & Seed Expo Photo Album

Meet ASTA’s New Director of Communications

J Walters PhotoAfter managing communications for the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) for the last five years, Janice Walters is now the lead communicator for the seed industry.

As the brand new director of communications for the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA), Janice is working closely with President and CEO Andy LaVigne to promote the seed industry’s regulatory and legislative positions, as well as its many initiatives to support seed education and research, careers in the seed industry, and the quality management, movement and stewardship of seed.

During ASTA CSS 2013 and Seed Expo, I caught up with Janice to talk about her new role and, more personally, her two bundles of joy at home. Janice is originally from Galesburg, Illinois but she and her husband now live outside of Washington, D.C. with their 8-month-old twin boys.

Listen to my interview with Janice here: Interview with Janice Walters, ASTA

2013 ASTA CSS & Seed Expo Photo Album

RFS Hearing Goes 12 Hours, Draws Hundreds

Over 140 stakeholders testified at a hearing Thursday on the Environmental Protection Agency proposal to lower the biofuels targets under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in 2014, and those opposed to the plan outnumbered those in favor by a ratio of more than two to one.

dinneen1“More than 100 of the 144 speakers support #ethanol, #biodiesel & advanced biofuels,” tweeted Renewable Fuels Association (RFS) president Bob Dinneen. “Don’t mess w/ the RFS!” Bob Dinneen testimony at EPA hearing

The hearing, which lasted 12 hours, included livestock producers from Iowa who testified against lowered the RFS requirements. Among those testifying in favor of the proposal was National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) past president and Illinois farmer and rancher Steve Foglesong.

“I am a corn farmer, I just choose to feed it to cattle, it’s value added,” said Foglesong. “It’s not that different from the ethanol industry who takes corn to feed it into their plants and produce ethanol, dried distillers grains (DDGs), and carbon dioxide instead of beef. The process is identical, all but the RFS mandate, which gives the ethanol industry an advantage in purchasing corn. We’re not opposed to corn ethanol, but it’s time to look at reforming the RFS and let the market pick winners and losers instead of the government.”

The National Corn Growers Association had dozens of witnesses from around the country, but one of their best advocates was a young man with no ties to either side. “Coolest witness of the day at #RFS hearing: college student from Michigan drove in with E85 to testify!” tweeted NCGA. “He uses E10 in his lawn mower.”

All of those who testified at the hearing Thursday submitted written comments to the EPA regarding the RFS plan for 2014. Comments will be accepted until Jan. 28.

EPA Hearing on Biofuels to Draw Big Crowd

epa-logoA huge turnout is expected Thursday at a public hearing on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Renewable Fuel Standard volume obligations for 2014. Literally busloads of stakeholders, both opposed to and in favor of cutting the requirements, are attending the hearing at the Hyatt in Crystal City, Virginia.

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad will be attending with several Iowa livestock producers, farmers and renewable fuels leaders. Branstad fears the EPA proposal could lead to another farm crisis. “I was governor during the farm crisis of the ‘80s when land values dropped 63 percent,” he said during a conference call on Wednesday. “I know what can happen when you have an agriculture depression, and we don’t want to go back and revisit that.” Comments on RFS Proposal Negative Impacts

Also attending the hearing will be corn farmers from a dozen other states in addition to Iowa. “It’s great to see so many people willing to leave their farms at this time of year for an important opportunity to give the EPA a piece of their mind,” said National Corn Growers Association First Vice President Chip Bowling of Maryland.

National Turkey Federation president Joel Brandenberger will testify in favor of reducing biofuels requirements under the RFS citing “the forced diversion of corn to ethanol that reduced the available share of the feed supply for poultry and livestock from 55 percent to just less than 41 percent of the corn supply, causing market volatility and higher feed prices.” The turkey producers and the National Chicken Council will continue to work toward legislation in Congress to reform or repeal the RFS.

The hearing is scheduled to begin at 9:00 am Eastern time and “end when all parties present who wish to speak have had the opportunity to do so.” Domestic Fuel/AgWired reporter John Davis will be there to provide coverage here.

Rabo AgriFinance Report From NAFB

nafb-13-40-editedRabo AgriFinance was present for the recent Trade Talk during the 2013 NAFB Convention. The company is the leading U.S. ag lender and specializes in protein to produce and inputs to oilseeds. Their expert team monitors and evaluates the global market that influences agriculture around the world.

I spoke with two of the team’s analysts at the event and they each shed some insight into the upcoming 2014 futures and recapped how growers and producers faired in 2013. John Grettenburg is a Relationships Manager in Western and Southwest Iowa and specializes in the corn and soybean market. Don Close is the Vice President for Food and Agribusiness Research (FAR) and his area of interest is in international markets and cattle feeding.

John hit on on-farm storage of grains and how it can benefit growers. “I think it gives the producer the opportunity to mange it from one tax year to the next from an income tax perspective. Historically we have had some increases and bumps in the market through the spring months and early summer. It allows farmers to increase the speed of their harvest if they have their own drying facility and by not have to wait in lines at local elevators. It gives them that flexibility to move that crop to market when the price dictates.”

nafb-13-42-editedListen to my complete interview with John here: Interview with John Grettenburg

Don describes 2013 for cattle feeders as dismal and says the replenishing of herds will be a slow process and supplies will continue to be tight. “One of the areas the beef industry will be challenged with is the position of both the broiler and hog industry while they gain market shares at the expense of beef. With the likely hood of recovering cow numbers the prospects of growing international trade both short-term and long goals gives a very positive outlook for the future.”

Listen to my complete interview with Don here: Interview with Don Close

Checkout photos from NAFB Convention: 2013 NAFB Convention Photo Album

Farm Bill Top Topic at NAFB Trade Talk

For the third year in a row now, the main topic of discussion at the NAFB Trade Talk was farm bill, or lack thereof.

nafb13-afbf-thatcherDespite reports that high hopes are fading for a farm bill yet this year, the ag group representatives we talked to were still cautiously optimistic. “I think progress is being made and I’m still confident that we’re going to get something before the end of the year,” said Mary Kay Thatcher with the American Farm Bureau Federation. Interview with Mary Kay Thatcher, AFBF

nafb13-nfu-johnson“Last year when I was here I predicted that by the end of the year we’d have a farm bill and I’m going to make that prediction again,” said National Farmers Union president Roger Johnson. Interview with Roger Johnson, NFU

ncga-martinNational Corn Growers Association president Martin Barbre says they are still hopeful. “We’re pressing every day, working with our friends in Congress,” the Illinois grower said. “We got it to conference, that’s a step forward!” Interview with Martin Barbre, NCGA

American Soybean Association board member Ray Gaesser of Iowa says they are also pleased to see some progress. “We’ve been working on the 2012 farm bill for more than three years,” he said. “But we are encouraged that it has at least come to conference.” Interview with Ray Gaesser, ASA

The other ASA, the American Sugar Alliance, is watching the farm bill progress very carefully because it is so critical to their industry. “The farm bill is .. our one, two and three most important priorities that we deal with,” said chairman Ryan Weston. “We’ll just keep working with all the other farm organizations and members of Congress to try to get a farm bill done by the end of the year.” Interview with Ryan Weston, American Sugar Alliance

The National Sorghum Producers chairman J.B. Stewart of Oklahoma is hoping this process is finally coming to an end. “I think both sides of the aisle are definitely ready to get this behind them,” he said. “We certainly are.” Interview with J.B. Stewart and Tim Lust, NSP

National Association of Wheat Growers president Bing Von Bergen hopes the conference committee puts partisan politics aside. “When they’re in conference they need to reach across the table and say … let’s meet in the middle. And we believe that will happen.” Interview with Bing Von Bergen, NAWG

There are other issues important to agriculture, like the water resources bill and immigration reform, but everyone is looking forward to not having to talk about a farm bill again next year at Trade Talk!

2013 NAFB Convention Photo Album

Classic + Ag Connect = Really Big Show

nafb13-aem-classicWith corn, soybeans, wheat and sorghum growers all part of the Commodity Classic, who thought it could get any bigger?

But it will definitely be bigger in 2016 when Classic joins forces with AG CONNECT expo to become what may well be the biggest farm show on Earth.

ZimmCast 416In this edition of the ZimmCast, we hear from Sara Mooney, AG CONNECT show director with the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, and National Corn Growers Association board member Rob Elliott of Illinois about this partnership and what it will mean for the agriculture community as a whole. AG CONNECT and Commodity Classic

Thanks to our ZimmCast sponsor, GROWMARK, locally owned, globally strong, for their support.

2013 NAFB Convention Photo Album

Iowa Corn Growers “Fill Up on Me’ Sweepstakes

iowa-corn-growers-association-77948544A new multimedia campaign features four Iowa corn farmers called ‘Fill Up on Me’ Sweepstakes. The statewide campaign from the Iowa Corn Growers Association and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board includes TV, online, print and radio advertisements focusing on ethanol/economic development, products from corn to ethanol process and conservation practices found on the farm.

“We are proud of the outstanding farmers we have in Iowa,” said Shannon Textor, Market Development Director for Iowa Corn and the staff person responsible for ethanol marketing. “We picked just four Iowans for the campaign, but we have thousands more great Iowa farmers that we could have chosen to feature.”

The campaign is already underway and will continue through December 14th. The farmers range in age, experience and have different farming techniques, but their passion for agriculture is clearly the same.

Meet the farmers:
- Mark Recker, Arlington, IA
- Brent Drey, Sc City, IA
- Pam Johnson, Floyd, IA
- Bill Couser, Nevada, IA

The ‘Fill Up on Me’ Sweepstakes includes a fuel giveaway and other ways to get involved on the issue of ethanol. For more information on the campaign check out

EPA Unveils 2014 RFS Renewable Fuel Volumes

Today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its proposal for the 2014 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) as part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for the amount of renewable fuels to be blended into gasoline and diesel. The EPA has proposed to set the cellulosic biofuel category at 17 million gallons, biomass-based diesel at 1.28 billion gallons, advanced biofuel at 2.20 billion gallons and renewable fuel at 15.21 billion. Development with input from the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Agriculture, the proposal seeks public input.

fuels-americalogoFuels America coalition hosted a media call in reaction to the EPA’s proposed renewable volume obligations (RVOs) today. The biofuels industry said they were disappointed and that the proposed volumes would set the entire industry back and that the EPA’s proposal cannot stand.

During the call, Bob Dinneen from the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) unveiled a new analysis showing how the RVOs, if implemented, would impact gas prices. In addition to Bob Dinneen, participants included Brent Brent Erickson, Executive Vice President, BIO; Roger Johnson, President of the National Farmers Union; Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy; and Jeff Lautt, CEO of POET.

The Fuels America said of today’s proposed 2014 RFS numbers, “We are astounded by the proposal released by the Administration today. It reflects an “all of the above, except biofuels” energy strategy. If implemented, would cost American drivers more than $7 billion in higher gas prices, and hand the oil companies a windfall of $10.3 billion. The impact of this proposal on the renewable fuel industry– both first and second generation – cannot be overstated. It caps the amount of renewable fuel used in our gasoline far below what the industry is already making, and could make next year, using an approach that is inconsistent with the RFS.

Dinneen said during the press conference, “By re-writing the statute and re-defining the conditions upon which a waiver from the RFS can be granted, EPA is proposing to place the nation’s renewable energy policy in the hands of the oil companies. That would be the death of innovation and evolution in our motor fuel markets, thus increasing consumer costs at the pump and the environmental cost of energy production. This proposal cannot stand.”

Buis noted that this is a proposed rule and not a final rule and there will be a 60 day comment period. “We welcome the opportunity to ensure that biofuel stakeholders are able to express their concern with this proposed rule, while also laying out a reasonable pathway to achieve the goals of the RFS during the forthcoming comment period.

This fall, the corn industry is looking at a record breaking harvest while the EPA has proposed renewable fuel volumes well below what the ethanol industry is capable of supplying. Lautt responded during the call that the opportunity to offer more affordable fuel options to consumers has never been better.

Listen to the full Fuels America press call here: Industry Responds to 2014 RFS RVO Proposal

Iowa Farmer Claims AP Report is Misleading

apLeroy Perkins is an Iowa farmer who will be featured in an Associated Press “investigative report” being released this week about ethanol and the environment. He claims that his comments were taken out of context and reporters who interviewed him never told him it was for a “story to put down ethanol.”

“I think the AP folks wrote a little different story than they told me they were going to write,” said Leroy during a Fuels America press call today about an advanced draft of the report which was circulated on the internet last week. He says he was contacted by the reporters to talk about “the county fair, along with absentee out of state landlords and of course, water quality.”

Leroy says one of the reporters asked him what he thought about ethanol. “I told them I was for ethanol, I believe in it and we use it in our vehicles and equipment all the time … because it’s a product of the land,” he said.

Leroy is described in the article as “a white-haired, 66-year-old farmer in denim overalls” who is “agonizing” over whether he should put the “91 acres that he set aside for conservation years ago” into corn production. Much of the pre-released article is focused specifically on Wayne County Iowa, where he lives, to illustrate how ethanol policy is “raping the land” by encouraging more corn acreage.

“The AP article tried to paint Wayne County as a poster child for cropland expansion under the RFS but they … omitted some key facts,” said Geoff Cooper, Vice President of Research and Analysis for the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). “Farmers in Wayne County Iowa planted far more corn in the past than they do today,” he added, noting that 88,000 acres were planted in 1985 compares to 58,000 last year. “Cropland is not expanding in the United States.”

Listen to a conference call on the AP article here:AP ethanol story fact check

RFA has composed a
Counterpoint Fact Sheet on AP story and we also have spoken to RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen who was interviewed for the article. Ethanol Report with Bob Dinneen on AP story