“We need ethanol to be able to use up the excess corn,” began Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey during a press conference at the Farm Progress Show hosted by Growth Energy. “That’s what started ethanol in the 1980s. Farmers said we’re tired of $1.50, $1.30 corn prices and we’re going to build an industry to use of some of the surpluses.”
And build an industry they did.
Northey explained that the ethanol industry is vital to corn farmers who are producing more and more each year. He used Iowa as an example and said in 2001, when the state conducted an Ag Census, ag sales from all farms in Iowa were $12 billion, half in crops and half in livestock. In 2007, sales were $20 billion with the biggest change being the amount that went to ethanol.
It worked and now our country has a robust industry whose future is uncertain due to questions over major policies that support the growth of the ethanol industry. The ethanol tax credit is under fire and opponents to ethanol are also trying to eliminate the ethanol tariff. In addition, the industry needs more access to markets and passing the E15 waiver would help to increase market access.
“Certainly we need some of those incentives to continue. We need more than three months predictability with those incentives going off this December. We need a long-term vision of what can happen out there,” said Northey.
Growth Energy CEO, Tom Buis, seconded Northey’s call for more effective, long-term policy and said that Senator Reid (D-NV) has already called for a lame duck session on November 15th to address the future of energy policy in America.
On several occasions Northey stressed, “We need more access to markets. We also need predictability, and policies we understand around for several years.”
He concluded that farmers are doing the right thing, and the ethanol industry is doing the right thing, now we need the politicians to do the right thing.
You can listen to the Growth Energy press conference here. Growth Energy Press Conference During Farm Progress Show