As Biden steps up for farmers, NCGA works to advance legislation on ethanol
It was like a scene out of a Hollywood movie. Just as it looked as though the oil industry had succeeded in ending consumer access to higher levels of ethanol – a biofuel that is environmentally friendly and cuts gas prices – during the summer months, President Biden makes an eleventh-hour decision to use his emergency powers to allow for consumer choice.
Yet, this wasn’t something out of Hollywood; it was reality. I was pleased to travel to Menlo, Iowa, on April 12 to watch the president tell a barn full of farmers that he would use his emergency authority to extend access to 15 percent ethanol-blended fuel, or E15, through this summer.
The president’s announcement comes after two years of legal drama, in which the oil industry, looking after its own profit margin, sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to end access to E15 during the summer months. A court ruled in 2021 that the EPA had acted outside of its authority, and, as a result, access to E15 was set to end over the summer months, each year, starting this June.
The consequences to ending access to E15, even for a few months, would have been serious for consumers and the U.S. economy. Gas prices would have risen even more than they already have; greenhouse gas emissions would have increased; and rural communities and farmers would have felt the economic effect of a shrinking demand for ethanol.
Many thought getting the president to step in was a long shot. After all, he’s dealing with a deadly pandemic, rising inflation, a devastating war in Europe and a host of other issues. But corn grower leaders understood that all the president’s travails were a recipe for a winning argument for higher uses of ethanol.
Corn grower leadership alongside the ethanol industry have been making the argument to administration officials and Congress that ethanol is a tool that can help the president address many of the country’s problems, from climate change to a sluggish economy. Timing was of the essence with the deadline quickly approaching, but just as it looked as though there wasn’t much hope, we received word from the White House that the president was to give a speech in Iowa the next day.
Mystery abounded, flights were booked, holding statements were drafted. Surely, we thought, the president wouldn’t give a speech in Iowa if he weren’t going to make an announcement about E15. Then official word finally came in the evening beforehand from the White House that the president would intervene on the matter in favor of consumers and corn growers.
Now we look to next steps. As we look to build on this momentum, we encourage Congress to advance the Next Generation Fuels Act. The Next Generation Fuels Act highlights ethanol’s unique ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while unlocking new engine efficiency gains, allowing consumers to drive further between fill-ups.
The bill will not only help further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it will also help lower gas prices, help family farms and revitalize rural economies.
Whether it’s combatting climate change, helping lower soaring fuel prices, or helping rural communities and family farms, there is something in the Next Generation Fuels Act for Democrats and Republicans alike. That’s why we are continuing to work to garner bipartisan support for this landmark legislation.
So, we’re leaving one movie and moving to the sequel. Like all movies, we have villains, heroes and many twists, turns and surprises. But unlike a movie, the outcomes of these efforts have a real impact on real people.
That’s why we take time to savor this victory while preparing for the next.
Opportunity knocking for farmers wanting to serve on Indiana corn checkoff board
Hoosier farmers interested in directing Indiana’s corn checkoff investments may now petition to run for one of the five seats up for election. The Indiana Corn Marketing Council (ICMC) manages the corn checkoff investments with the goal of supporting and growing Indiana’s corn industry.
“Since the Indiana corn checkoff was created, Hoosier corn growers have benefitted from the volunteer leadership of those who have served on the ICMC board,” said ICMC Treasurer Tim Gauck, a Greensburg, Ind., farmer. “The corn checkoff relies on farmers to fill these leadership positions to help the Indiana corn industry remain strong and effective. New perspectives and ideas will help our corn research and promotion efforts.”
Board members direct the promotional, educational and research activities funded by the corn checkoff. Some of the board’s priorities include increased ethanol use, improved transportation infrastructure, on-farm research, livestock promotion and expanding international exports.
To run for an ICMC director seat, Indiana corn farmers must be at least 18 years old, a registered Indiana voter and a resident in the appropriate district. All farmers who submit a valid petition by June 1, 2022 will be listed as a candidate on the election ballot. Voting takes place at Purdue Cooperative Extension Service county offices August 8-12 or by absentee ballot, which will be made available on the ICMC website on July 9.
Here is the breakdown of each district:
• District 1– The counties of Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Starke, Pulaski, Jasper, White, Benton, and Newton.
• District 4 – The counties of Warren, Tippecanoe, Montgomery, Putnam, Owen, Clay, Vigo, Parke, Vermillion, and Fountain.
• District 7 – The counties of Sullivan, Greene, Daviess, Martin, Knox, Dubois, Pike, Gibson, Warrick, Spencer, Vanderburgh, and Posey.
• Two statewide At-Large seats up for re-election covers all Indiana counties.
Farmers can download petition forms at www.incorn.org/ elections or by calling the ICMC office at 1-800-735-0195. Forms are also available at all Purdue County Extension offices.
Newly elected directors will begin a three-year term Oct. 1. ICMC directors can serve three consecutive full terms or a total of nine consecutive years. For more information about Indiana Corn Marketing Council, visit www.incorn.org.