Posted: February 22, 2012
The 59th Speaker of the House, a farm boy from Illinois, served as one of the nation’s leaders during a pivotal time in the history of this country – smack in the middle of 9/11. It was a time that helped Denny Hastert realize the importance of national energy security.
“If we’re going to be a dynamic progressive, productive country we have to have our own source of energy at a reasonable price,” Hastert said during an appearance at a GROWMARK, FS System event in East Peoria this week. “Whether it comes from Iran or Iraq or Saudi Arabia or Nigeria or Venezuela – those are countries that we don’t necessarily have the ability to trust.”
Hastert is adamant about the importance of renewable fuels and ethanol in particular. “We need to use ethanol,” he said. “I fought for ethanol from the time that I was in Congress for 15 years and finally got through the Ways and Means Committee along with a guy named Nussle from Iowa and we got ethanol with the tax credits so it could be a viable product. If we sit back and don’t do anything about it, we’re going to lose it.”
Listen to Speaker Hastert’s comments about ethanol during his address: Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert
I also had the opportunity to interview Hastert after his address and he expanded on his comments about the importance of domestic energy production to agriculture. “I always believed that farmers were best off when they sold more than a commodity, if they could sell something that has value-added,” he said. “When you look across our corn fields in the Midwest and see one out of every four rows of corn that goes to ethanol, you know that you’re securing a price that farmers can put a crop in the field and make a living.”
That ties in with what the former speaker thinks will happen in the next farm bill. “I think you’ll see some of the subsidies that farmers have grown to rely on are going to be gone just because of the shortage in the budget,” Hastert said, noting that he has two farms himself. “What we need to do in the farm community is to make sure we keep those markets for our products that we have and can be independent of government subsidies.”
Hastert served as Speaker of the House from 1998 to 2007, the longest-serving Republican Speaker in history.
Listen to the interview here: Dennis Hastert Interview