(Posted Wed. Jan 22nd, 2014)
Jan. 22: Last night, thousands of farmers from across the country were dialed in for a town hall via telephone, hosted by the National Corn Growers Association. The teleconference highlighted the need to reverse the EPA’s proposed reduction in corn ethanol volumes for 2014 under the Renewable Fuel Standard.
The event, which lasted about 30 minutes, included remarks from NCGA President Martin Barbre, a farmer from Carmi, Ill.; U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley from Iowa; and Richard Childress, owner of NASCAR’s Richard Childress Racing, who works closely with NCGA through the American Ethanol partnership. In addition to providing a diverse array of opinions and information on the subject, the event highlighted what farmers can do to speak out against the reductions proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in November.
Kicking off the event, Barbre explained in grave detail the impact that this proposal could have not only upon NCGA members, but upon all farmers and anyone who depends upon money generated through America’s agri-economy.
“This ill-advised and unnecessary cut in required RFS ethanol volumes could have a devastating effect on all of us – farmers, our rural communities, our environment and our national security,” he explained after pointing out that the reduction would leave a large portion of the record 2013 corn crop unused. “With corn prices already teetering below the cost of production, this decrease will put further downward pressure on the market. We simply can’t afford to return to the days of two-dollar corn. Neither can our schools, hospitals, fire departments and roads.”
Rep. Braley reinforced Barbre’s message while walking call participants through the landscape upon which this battle will play out in Washington.
“Several years ago it became clear to me that Big Oil and Big Gas were waging war on the RFS,” he began. “That war has intensified in the past year with pressure that caused the EPA to propose a rule to roll back the RFS. I don’t want you to have any doubt where I stand on this critical issue. The EPA is dead wrong and I’ve told them that. The future of renewable energy and America’s dream of energy independence relies on the innovation happening in my home state of Iowa and in each of your fields across the nation.
“The EPA’s proposal to reduce RFS volumes is both short-sighted and disappointing. The new rule will hurt the farmers and energy producers who are creating jobs and adding value and efficiencies to their products every day and stifle innovation…in advanced biofuels and cellulosic ethanol as well.
“As we continue to fight this proposed rule, your comments are absolutely critical and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy admitted that during our meeting with her last week. Keep hammering the EPA with your comments and data that provide your perspective on the impact the RFS is having in your community. We know the RFS is working.”
Following Braley, Childress addressed the issue lending his perspective gained through years of collaboration with NCGA on the American Ethanol partnership, for which his grandson and NASCAR Nationwide series champion Austin Dillon served as spokesman during the 2013 racing season.
“We’re proud to represent American Ethanol and the National Corn Growers Association.
“The thing that makes me so proud…about being associated with American Ethanol and the corn growers starts with our great country of America. We can’t keep depending on foreign oil. The economic impact brought to America by American-made ethanol starts with the farmers, and it trickles down to where the farmer spends his money in local businesses.”
Childress also spoke to the positive financial impact ethanol blends like E15, which fuels every car and truck in every NASCAR race, can have for consumers. “The pricing you’ll be able to get from running E15 in your car will put dollars in your pocket to spend other places.”
Finally, he urged those on and off the farm alike to stand up for what he has found to be an exceptional fuel that offers benefits to the American economy, to American consumers and to our nation’s farmers alike.
“Everyone should stand up and talk to the political world about how important it is to support alternative fuels like American Ethanol that puts so much back into our country. They need to know the important mission we are trying to accomplish with ethanol and E15. There have been so many accomplishments with ethanol with E15, and it will only get better with time. Let the politicians know how important it is to the economic impact of the country for America to have a product like corn ethanol in our vehicles today.”
Barbre also pressed farmers and all of those who rely upon agriculture for their income to take action and make sure that federal regulators and legislators understand the dire situation that this action would create for the very people they are charged with representing.
“We need our growers to stand up and make their voice heard with the EPA and the White House to convince them to turn back this disastrous decision. You can do that right now by visiting www.ncga.com/rfs,” he urged. “Comments must be made to EPA by midnight, next Tuesday, January 28 -- so don’t delay!”
For almost two-thirds of those in attendance, this represented the first time that they had participated in an event of this nature. With only days remaining, NCGA joins with groups from across agriculture and beyond to urge every farmer to not only submit comments but to also encourage all of those with whom they do business to do so as well.
For more information and a direct link to submit official comments to the EPA, click here.