On December 5 several Iowa livestock producers and a representative from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association testified in defense of restoring a strong and robust federal Renewable Fuel Standard. They gave their testimony at an Environmental Protection Agency hearing in Arlington, Virginia. The public is urged to submit their comments on the RFS to www.regulations.gov.
At the event, Rick Hansen, a cattle feeder and crop farmer from Hinton, Iowa, stated in his testimony, "I could stand up here and tell you that the co-products from ethanol plants have been great for our business and that for the first time I see a renewed optimism from the Midwest cattle feeder. Or I could mention how for the first time in decades farmers are making a living without the help from government farm programs. Or I could tout the number of young farmers and cattle feeders returning to their home place to follow their dreams and make a living."
Hansen added, "These are just a few of the reasons why an Iowa cattleman like me loves ethanol and the RFS, and there are many more." He went on to warn the EPA: "If for some unknown reason you choose to slash the RFS and cripple the ethanol industry, please keep in mind that I truly believe your decision goes a lot deeper than you think."
Livestock numbers have risen in areas near ethanol plants, thanks to lower feed costs achieved by feeding gluten feed and distillers grains
Another livestock producer, Mark Leonard from Holstein, Iowa stated: "As a cattle feeder, cow herd operator and rural banker in western Iowa, I've seen the benefits of renewable fuels and the RFS in every facet of my professional and personal life. Unfortunately, the current EPA proposal to cut the RFS would see those benefits reversed."
"Our feed mills, livestock equipment manufacturers, veterinarians, auto dealerships, restaurants, movie theatres, hardware stores, and construction outfits have seen increased and sustained vigor in their businesses," Leonard added. "Livestock operations in general and cattle operations in particular have reaped significant economic benefits from reduced feed costs that come from feeding the co-products of the ethanol industry. Livestock numbers increase in areas near ethanol plants due to the lower feed costs achieved by feeding gluten feed and DDGs."~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
Ethanol plants produce a reliable supply of distillers feed products every day for local feed markets
Mark Wigans, a livestock producer from Renwick in north central Iowa, testified: "Livestock producers in the Midwest have embraced distiller's grains as a favored feed ingredient. Customers of mine who buy calves from our ranch, and feed them out, depend on a reliable consistent supply of distillers co-products for their business success. The Iowa ethanol plant near me sells over 500 tons of dried distiller's products every day into local feed markets. Those hog and layer operations in the area won't allow a ton of them to be shipped elsewhere; as they know the value of them in their feed rations and buy all they can get their hands on."
IRFA policy director Grant Menke warned the EPA that farmers "feel betrayed. They feel lied to. They are frustrated. And they are angry. And, although they would never use the word, they are also scared – scared that a gutted and useless RFS will lead to either another Farm Crisis or a return to government controlled farm policy where decisions are based on government programs instead of market demand."
There is still time to call the bluff of Big Oil, and allow the RFS to operate as it was intended
Citing Big Oil's backward reasoning for calling for a reduction in 2014 RFS levels, Menke concluded, "The fear of high gasoline prices was a bluff from Big Oil. There is still time to call that bluff and to uphold the RFS as it was intended to operate. The result would be lower gasoline prices, rural prosperity, cleaner fuels, less foreign oil dependence, and a promise kept. That is certainly a scenario worthy of consideration."
Iowa is the leader in renewable fuels production. Iowa has 42 ethanol refineries capable of producing over 3.8 billion gallons annually, with three cellulosic ethanol facilities currently under construction. In addition, Iowa has 12 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce nearly 315 million gallons annually. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association was formed in 2002 to represent the state's liquid renewable fuels industry. The trade group fosters the development and growth of the renewable fuels industry in Iowa through education, promotion, legislation and infrastructure development. For more information, visit the IRFA website.