The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, the largest farm organization in Iowa, brought farmers to Capitol Hill last week to urge support of a comprehensive energy plan - one that meets a growing world's demand for food and fuel.
Iowa is the No. 1 producer for corn, soybeans, wind energy conversion and ethanol. It is also the birthplace of ethanol and "research central" for new forms of energy production. "The Iowa farmer has always met and exceeded production demands and we continue to be poised to develop and capture new energy opportunities by combining what we know, with what we grow," says IFBF President Craig Lang.
"Ethanol was designed to be and should remain a vital piece of the puzzle in a comprehensive energy plan - one that uses research, conservation and exploration of existing sources of energy," says Lang, a dairy farmer from Brooklyn, Iowa. "Conservation is something we can all do, not just in natural resources, but in energy use."
Need research, conservation, exploration
"Seventy-five percent of the liquid energy we use in this country today is for our love affair with that personal automobile. Flex-fuel vehicles, of course, that burn E85, vehicles that get more miles to a gallon, smaller vehicles, less waste, should be priorities for us all," he says.
As May 21, 78% of the Iowa corn crop was planted in Iowa and there is high expectation of another bumper crop. However, this is the most expensive corn crop ever planted in Iowa - costing nearly twice as much as last year, thanks to rising fertilizer and fuel prices. But farmers have faith and are laying billions of dollars on the line even in a year when the weather has been less than ideal.
"We need a market and regulatory climate that encourages more investment in agriculture and energy, not less," says IFBF's director of research and commodity services, David Miller.
ISU working on new forms of bioenergy
Just as seed technology brings promise to Iowa corn and soybean yields, research and innovation are also the keys to uncovering more efficient means of bioenergy. "Here at Iowa State University, we are researching turning non-food crops and cellulosic materials such as cornstalks, stems, leaves, hardy grasses and fast-growing trees for future fuels. We're working on methods including gasification, pyrolysis and fermentation for the future of these materials which can fuel a growing world need for energy," says Robert C. Brown, Iowa Farm Bureau Director of the Bioeconomy Institute at ISU. "This is real-world technology and a vital part of a comprehensive energy approach to fueling a growing world population."
For more information on Iowa Farm Bureau's comprehensive energy plan or more insight into the future of Iowa's No. 1 renewable fuel industry, check out JoinTheRideIowa.com. To speak with an Iowa farmer or Farm Bureau subject matter experts, contact Iowa Farm Bureau at 515-225-5414 or go to www.iowafarmbureau.com.