Monday, February 25, 2013

The Need for the RFS

Have you fueled up your vehicle lately at the local gas station? You have probably noticed that you aren't paying what you did a month go for the fuel you are putting into your vehicle. According to AAA, the national average for gas a month ago was $3.33 where today the national average is at $3.77. In a month's time frame, gas prices have rose 44 cents. It seems like every time I fill up these days, I always cringe when I see what my total bill is for the gas that I put in my vehicle. Yet, while we might be paying higher prices for regular gasoline, we do have other choices that uses different blends of ethanol, such as E10, E15, and E85.

While we are fortunate to have these other choices, I do wonder how long we will be able to have these choices at the pump in the future. Unfortunately, there are industries who oppose ethanol and would like to see the ethanol industry go away. The biggest opponent of ethanol is the oil industry. They claim that ethanol is to blame for the increase in gas prices and that ethanol is cutting into their profits. However, the food industry is also starting to take a harsher tone against ethanol production blaming the ethanol industry for the rise in food prices. Both industries have been lobbying heavily in Washington D.C. to get congress to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which has lead to the increased production of ethanol. If these industries were able to get congress to repeal the RFS, it would be devastating to all of America.

Now, you are probably wondering why repealing the RFS would be devastating to America. Well first and foremost, the RFS has allowed us to produce our own green energy right here in America. Unlike oil, we don't import ethanol from countries in the Middle East and we aren't giving money to countries that don't cooperate with the U.S. Instead, our dollars stay right here in the U.S. and goes to our local communities. Another positive thing about the RFS is that it has created jobs. The ethanol industry can be linked to creating over 90,200 jobs directly and 311,400 jobs indirectly. With many industries laying off employees over the past few years, the ethanol industry has actually been adding jobs due to the demand that the RFS has created.

While the RFS is a job creator and helps keep dollars in the U.S. it is also a vital part of rural America. Many of the jobs that the ethanol industry has created are located in rural communities all across America. This then directly impacts businesses in the local communities as well as local school districts. When there are people in rural America, there is spending in local businesses as well as higher enrollment numbers in the local schools. The RFS has also made it possible for children to return to the family farm. Farming has been much better since the RFS has been established allowing farmers to make necessary upgrades to their farms and also has improved the lifestyle of a farmer. This has made it more appealing for younger generations to return to the family farm in rural America. Lastly, the RFS allows drivers to have a choice at the pump. Instead of paying $3.77 a gallon for regular gasoline, a driver can fuel up with E85 at $3.33 (Drivers can only fuel up with E85 if they drive a flex fuel vehicle). 

So as a person can see, the RFS has a major impact on America. It not only gives us a choice at the pump, but also has helped the economy in rural communities. As a driver, farmer, and a person who lives in rural America, I can see the importance of the RFS since I am directly impacted by it. I am able to purchase a cheaper and greener fuel, return and be part of my family's farm, and live in a community that has benefited from ethanol production. So there is a need for the RFS and I hope that those in congress will be able to see and understand how vital the RFS is to America!

To learn more about the Ethanol Industry, visit these organizations: 
Renewable Fuels Association
Growth Energy
Renewable Fuel Standard

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A City With a Mind of its Own

When I think of our nation's capital, the first thing that pops into my mind is Capitol Hill. I then think of the White House followed by the national monument. For the first time ever, I was able to actually see these things up close instead of just seeing them in pictures or hearing people talk about them. However, there is way more to D.C. than just interesting architecture. Unfortunately, there is also the politics.

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to participate on the Nebraska Corn Growers Association's leadership trip to Washington D.C. where we met with Nebraska's senators and representatives. We also met with different agriculture organizations, such as the Animal Agriculture Alliance and learned about what they do and also some of the issues they deal with on a daily basis. We also met with the National Corn Growers Association and learned about some of the policy issues they are dealing with and what they are doing to represent America's corn farmers on the "hill". Our group also met with the Renewable Fuels Association as well as the U.S. Grains Council, and even went to the Japanese Embassy and met with the First Secretary of Agriculture. I found all of these visits very interesting, and it amazed me at how many issues there are. Yet, I was also impressed at what these organizations are doing for agriculture, such as solving issues and opening up new markets here in the U.S. as well as overseas. After visiting with all the organizations, I felt like agriculture was being represented well, especially America's corn farmers thanks to the National Corn Growers Association.

Yet, even though we have some great people representing a great industry, it doesn't stop the politics of D.C. Unfortunately, some in D.C. (cough cough... Politicians) think they know what is best for America, and sometimes even think they know what is best for certain industries. A couple of the big topics for us was the farm bill and the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). Unfortunately, congress has still failed to pass a farm bill that not only affects farmers and ranchers, but affects ALL of America. The farm bill provides the assurance that food, fuel, fiber, and feed will be produced as well as providing jobs for all sorts of Americans. However, our elected politicians don't seem to understand this and are instead worried about picking fights with the party across the isle. The second issue that is near and dear to agriculture is the Renewable Fuels Standard. Sometimes I don't think people realize how America has benefited from the Renewable Fuels Standard. It has created jobs in rural communities as well as paving the way for clean energy. It has also allowed ranchers and cattle feeders to purchase a different feed source that is the by-product of ethanol production. Unfortunately, some in D.C. don't understand this and want to repeal the RFS. If the RFS is repealed, it could have a major impact on rural America, and not in a good way. Fewer jobs will be created and more people will move away. So it is important that folks in D.C. realize how valuable the RFS is to America, especially rural America! A person told me a great saying that relates well to the RFS "Don't fix something that doesn't need fixed", which I don't think some in D.C. realize.

The Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA) leadership trip was a great experience and showed me how important it is for people involved in agriculture to get involved with grassroots organizations, such as the NeCGA. It also made me realize that D.C. definitely has a mind of its own at times and can lose touch of what is important, such as getting a farm bill passed and leaving the RFS alone. Yet, while D.C. can have a mind of its own, it is still a neat city and one that is definitely full of history!

A special thanks to the Nebraska Corn Growers Association for inviting me to participate and also to the Nebraska Corn Board and Farm Credit Services for sponsoring the trip!