Rural Caucus at Indiana Statehouse focuses on value of ethanol - Indiana Corn and Soy

Rural Caucus at Indiana Statehouse focuses on value of ethanol

Ethanol was the topic of conversation at the Jan. 26 Rural Caucus meeting at the Indiana Statehouse. Indiana Corn Growers Association member J.R. Roesner, a farmer from Ferdinand, Ind., and Indiana Corn Marketing Council (ICMC) Director of Biofuels Helena Jette joined Indiana Ethanol Producers Association (IEPA) Executive Director Tim Phelps to discuss the importance of ethanol to Hoosier farmers and the U.S. liquid fuels market.

Phelps led the group discussion with a primer on how ethanol is produced and a review of the location and capacity of Indiana’s ethanol producers. IEPA’s membership includes Iroquois Bio- Energy, POET Biorefining Alexandria, POET Biorefining North Manchester, POET Biorefining Portland and POET Biorefining Shelbyville. Together these facilities refine approximately one-third of Indiana’s annual corn crop into ethanol.

ICGA member and Ferdinand, Ind., farmer J.R. Roesner said the Next Generation Fuels Act could help improve the economy of corn growers..

“Biofuels like ethanol are a monumental success story for Indiana’s rural communities,” Phelps said. “In close partnership with Hoosier farmers, ethanol producers are responsible for nearly half of the state’s corn crop and are a crucial piece of our state’s economy.”

Jette said ICMC promotes the use of higher ethanol blends by Hoosier retailers and consumers. ICMC touts the benefits that ethanol offers consumers at the pump, in their bank account and in the environment. “I greatly appreciated the opportunity to discuss the vital role biofuels play in supporting the productivity of our farmers, driving progress toward our climate goals, and encouraging further adoption of sustainable renewable fuel opportunities at the Rural Caucus meeting,” Jette said.

ICMC projects have included the Hoosier Homegrown Fuels (HHF) Grant Program, which is a partnership with the Indiana Office of Energy Development, the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, Indiana Clean Cities and South Shore Clean Cities to promote the use of E15 and E85 ethanol blends to drivers across the state. “Given the uncertainties still confronting E15 availability during the summer driving months, there’s no better time to ensure affordable, low-carbon biofuels that can immediately reduce carbon emissions for cars on the road today,” Jette explained. “Selling E15 all year long in Indiana ensures that a much higher percentage of harmful aromatics is displaced by ethanol in the fuel resulting in reduced mortalities and cleaner air. Now more than ever, we need to capture every opportunity to advance the critical role Indiana Corn Marketing Council and the renewable fuel industries play in our fight against climate change.”

Other ICMC programs include the Let’s Clear the Air campaign and the Indy Air Strip Attack event, which is part of the Shift Sector racing series.

Roesner rounded out the presentation with an explanation of his role as a farmer-leader on both ICMC and the National Corn Growers Association’s Ethanol Action Team. He said federal ethanol policies often harm farmers’ access to domestic markets.

Roesner said some recent national policy initiatives, such as the Next Generation Fuels Act, which is intended to “leverage greater fuel octane to reduce carbon emissions from transportation, improve air quality by reducing the use of harmful aromatics and increase demand for biofuels,” could help Hoosier farmers in the future.

Legislators and guests also discussed the accessibility of higher ethanol blends and the benefits of ethanol refineries to the state’s corn economy. ISDA Director Bruce Kettler told legislators that the presence of a nearby ethanol refinery will drive the first purchaser competition for the corn produced in that area and can increase the basis prices for all farmers in proximity to the refinery.

The Rural Caucus is a group of Indiana state legislators who meet regularly to hear from constituents and stakeholders on the issues impacting the farm economy and rural life. The group is bipartisan and the legislators hail from both rural and urban districts. Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg) has been one of the co-chairs of the group for many years, and she is joined this year by co-chair Rep. Maureen Bauer (D-South Bend). Other topics that the Rural Caucus will discuss during this session include rural healthcare, broadband connectivity and workforce development.

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