Christmas Came Early for Corn Growers

Bush signs energy bill, with greatly expanded renewable fuel standard to boost ethanol and biodiesel use.

Iowa's corn growers celebrated on December 19 as President Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act into law, increasing the nation's Renewable Fuels Standard to 15 billion gallons of ethanol made from corn by 2022. The target for all biofuels is 36 billion gallons produced per year by 2022.

"This is great news for Iowa's corn growers and Iowa's economy," says Tim Recker, president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, who farms near Arlington in northeast Iowa. He was at a joint meeting of the ICGA and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board the day the law was signed. "This means continuing economic growth for rural Iowa and continuing strong demand for our crop."

The new law has a schedule, requiring a certain amount of renewable fuels to be produced by certain dates. If the 36 billion gallon total mandate is met by 2022, biofuels would replace 20% of total gasoline usage by 2022.

Good news for Iowa growers and economy

The use of renewable fuels, including ethanol, biodiesel, and cellulosic renewables, is now scheduled to increase from 9 billion gallons in 2008 to 36 billion gallons by 2022, of which 15 billion gallons will be corn-based. The mandate for biodiesel is a separate. It starts at 500 million gallons required to be used in 2009, rising to 1 billion gallons in 2012.

With ethanol production efficiency increasing, the 15 billion gallons of ethanol production per year is expected to require about five billion bushels of corn. Recker says corn growers will be able to meet that demand, citing the production records already established and the outlook for increasing corn yields per acre.

He thanks Iowa's corn growers for keeping up their efforts to promote ethanol use. "We've been up against some really powerful opposition, but we've prevailed because growers really care about clean fuels and corn promotion and because we've never given up the fight."

Ethanol development has already resulted in more than 47,000 new jobs in Iowa and $1.7 billion in increased individual income, according to a recent study. Recker also notes evidence that a healthy farm economy and energy production help buffer Iowa's economy from the effects of an economic downturn.

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