Posted By Cindy January 2, 2014
As you are making your list of 2014 New Year’s Resolutions, one of them should be to do your part to help protect the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
Unless your voice is heard, the Environmental Protection Agency will approve its proposal made on November 15 to cap corn-based ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply this year at 13 billion gallons, cutting 1.4 billion gallons from what it was supposed to be under the law.
The comment period on the proposal is open until January 28. If you believe the RFS is working as intended, if it has helped you personally and/or your rural community, if you think it is good for America that we have more renewable fuels, not less – let the EPA know.
The National Corn Growers Association has information on how to submit comments and drafts of possible comments that you can personalize – your story is what matters. You can also write your own letter, if you prefer, and send it to:
Environmental Protection Agency, Mailcode: 2822T
Air and Radiation Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0479
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460
Watch this great video by the Missouri Corn Growers that tells “the greatest story never told” – Quiet Revolution: The Ethanol Story.
Posted By Cindy December 30, 2013
A new exhibit is being developed for the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History that presents the history of agriculture in our nation from a business perspective. Part of the development process is a website that is collecting and archiving stories and photos about the progress of American agriculture through the years.
Curator Peter Liebhold says they created the Agriculture Innovation Heritage Archive to preserve, document and make available the story of American agriculture. “It’s a real easy-to-use site where you can browse what other people have said or you can contribute your own stories,” he said. “What we want people to do is tell us their experiences – maybe a story about walking the beans or a story about the rise of GPS – anything they think is important.” He also encourages farmers and ranchers to submit photos to accompany their stories.
One of the stories I found on the site was “Obery Farms: A family farm in Central Illinois, 1874-Present” which relates the family farm history of Paul and Catherine Obery who immigrated to the United States from France in 1874 and purchased 127 acres of land for $45 an acre. Two sixth generation Obery sons still maintain the centennial farm.
It will be interesting to see the finished physical exhibition, which is scheduled to open in 2015, but this “virtual” version is a great resource for everyone to learn about the great American Enterprise of agriculture.
Posted By Cathryn December 27, 2013
The Washington Examiner needs to examine their facts before publishing pure poppycock. In an article which ran on December 20, the paper claimed that National Corn Growers Association National Corn Yield Contest record holder David Hula grew his record-breaking bounty using organic production practices. Contest records clearly show this is completely untrue.
Hula, a perennial winner, deserves both recognition and admiration for his abilities. NCGA enthusiastically congratulates him on his accomplishment. The contest aims to encourage innovation and improvement, a goal Hula undoubtedly achieved. The fact that he did not grow his corn organically in no way, shape or form diminishes his success.
The false story published in the Examiner does detract from the overall success of modern famers though. Within days, anti-GMO activists have latched on to this pseudo-story to aid in their agenda-driven arguments. A record yield such as Hula’s would support arguments for the production possibilities using organic methods. But the record was not set using organic methods. So, the support they so desire does not exist.
NCGA keeps detailed records from each entry submitted to the NCYC. The information these forward-facing farmers provide sheds light on possible advancements and supplies the documentation needed to ensure the integrity of the contest. . The Biovante™ soil treatment Hula used may qualify as an organic treatment, but none of his other practices would qualify as organic. Like the vast majority of corn growers, he planted corn hybrids that contain biotechnology, used synthetic fertilizers and synthetic pesticides. Organic production practices would not allow the use of any one of these tools.
The Examiner should take a closer look at how it fact checks its stories prior to publication. By not getting the story right, they turned a success story from America’s farms into a tool for activists who advocate against them.
Posted By Cindy December 19, 2013
Six years ago today, President George W. Bush signed into law the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), which greatly expanded Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to become the RFS2. The goals of the new standard were to reduce our dependence on oil, confront global climate change, and expand production of renewable fuels for the security of future generations.
To celebrate that anniversary, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) has released a detailed analysis of where we are today compared to six years ago in the areas of renewable fuels production, economic activity, agricultural impacts, environmental issues, fuel prices, import dependence, and food prices.
“The RFS has indeed lived up to its promise in building out a renewable fuels industry, in reducing dependence on imported petroleum, in stimulating the agricultural economy,” says RFA Vice President of Research and Analysis Geoff Cooper, who compiled the analysis from a variety of resources. “At the same time the RFS has simply not had the impacts on the environment and food markets that detractors of the program have claimed.”
For example, Cooper says the size of the Gulf hypoxia zone is 27% smaller than it was in 2007. “In fact, last year the hypoxic zone was the smallest it has been in 12 years,” he said. Amazon deforestation is down 60% since 2007 and transportation sector CO2 emissions are down more than 10 percent.
When it comes to food prices, Cooper says they have increased about in line with general inflation while some items like milk and eggs are actually cheaper than they were in 2007 – and corn prices are almost the same. “The day President Bush signed this bill into law, corn prices were $4.34 a bushel,” said Cooper. The season average price this year is $4.40 per bushel.
Meanwhile, the price for a barrel of oil is up nearly 50% – up to over $108 compared to $72 in 2007.
So, tell us again why we should mess with the RFS?
Read the analysis and listen to the details here: RFA Celebrates Six Years of RFS
Posted By Mark December 19, 2013
I am rapidly getting in the holiday spirit but before I get to relaxed and magnanimous I have to send one final love letter to my friends in the petroleum industry. So with thoughts of sugar plums dancing in my head here goes:
In doing my regular reading today I came across three separate stories that if looked at individually are disturbing. The first touts fracking as the main driver in a U.S. energy revolution.
“America is in the midst of a game-changing energy revolution. This potential has been unlocked by innovations in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling that have made America the world’s top energy producer,” John Felmy, the American Petroleum Institute’s chief economist said. said.
No argument there but let’s drop the other shoe or pair of shoes if you will. I keep asking the same questions regarding fracking; at what cost? What are the environmental consequences of this intrusive, earth rending form of energy extraction? How long will the boom last?
More and more experts are saying enjoy our current respite of available energy because it won’t last. And now the US Coast Guard is looking into the possibility of allowing fracking waste to be barged along American rivers. Granted if they have to ship it this is likely the best way (or at least safest and most economical way), but isn’t it enough that international oil has slimed our oceans on a consistent basis for decades. Now they want to put these toxic substances on our rivers and risk our fresh water too?
Thus, the second article and issue; Every year petroleum finds itself wrapped up in a string of environmental misadventures, and many take place in remote locations and out of the glare of public scrutiny diminishing the attention but not the damage done. From pipeline spills in Arkansas to explosions in Qingdao, China petroleum is the gift that keeps on giving.
Sure they get fined, but amounts that amount to pocket change for Big Oil. On the rare occasion they really get their hand slapped, such as the with the Deep Water Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, they put on a good show for the media and as time passes they fight in court to get those penalties reduced.
The third leg of this nauseating oil epic is the ongoing efforts by the Obama Administration (hey, it’s your Environmental Protection Agency so you better own it) proposal to hamstring the only economically viable and environmentally responsible alternative to oil….ethanol.
For 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a 1.4 billion gallon reduction in how much corn ethanol will be required under the Renewable Fuel Standard, the federal law that helps get domestic, renewable, cleaner-burning corn ethanol blended in the nation’s fuel supply.
“It is unfortunate that the Obama administration has caved in to Big Oil rather than stand up for rural America and the environment,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey at a Protect the RFS rally on November 22, 2013. “The renewable fuels standard needs to be protected as it has helped hold down prices at the pump, created thousands of jobs in rural Iowa, and benefited the environment. The President should be focused on jobs and the economy rather than looking for ways to hurt rural America.” Read more here.
It’s still not too late to do something about this. So if you support renewable ethanol and want to put the environment back in EPA send a note. Oh, and Merry Christmas.
Posted By Ken December 18, 2013
The American Automobile Association claims to be a longtime supporter of ethanol, but its recent policy statement leaves one wondering to what degree this is really the case.
The fact is, E15 is the most tested gasoline blend ever. To assert, like AAA, that consumers are ignorant of the new fuel blend does a disservice to consumers, and shows that AAA and its allies have not done their job to properly educate consumers that E15 is an acceptable and safe blend for most of the cars on the street today. We need to trust consumers to be smart, especially when labels and choices are clear. You simply don’t see a lot of people trying to pump diesel into cars.
When it comes to the safety of E15, in addition to our information page that lists research demonstrating this, this document from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory includes a lot of very good information. Interestingly, the key piece of research cited by E15’s opponents has been shown by the U.S. Department of Energy to be clearly flawed.
Also, AAA errs when it talks about how many vehicles qualify for using E15 fuel. The EPA reports that it can safely be used in all light-duty vehicles from model year 2001 and newer. These vehicles represent up to three-quarters of the vehicles on the road today.
When it comes to the Renewable Fuel Standard, corn growers and the ethanol industry have done our part. In fact, we’ve done more than our fair share. Now, it’s time for automakers and the oil industry to get on board and give consumers what they want – the ability to choose a domestic, renewable fuel when they fill up at the pump. AAA should stand up for what’s in its members best interest – real fuel choice that’s good for the economy, energy security and the environment.
Posted By Cindy December 18, 2013
Seed treatments could arguably be called one of the greatest advancements in agricultural production since the plow. That’s why proper stewardship of this important technology for farmers is so critical.
American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) CEO Andy LaVinge says seed industry and agricultural organizations have partnered to develop a new guide for farmers under the industry banner of Seed Treatment Matters. “We got together with CropLife America, and the major grower groups – National Corn Growers, American Soybean, National Cotton Council and American Farm Bureau Federation – to talk about the adoption of new technologies we’ve seen on seed,” he said. “We want to make sure that technology is properly stewarded.”
“Seed treatment does matter,” LaVigne added. “As farmers look at their seed treatment and seed plantings, we want to make sure that it matters, what they plant and how they steward it.”
The guide developed by the groups is available at seed-treatment-guide.com and it will also be offered and discussed at 2014 grower meetings.
Listen to my interview with Andy here: Interview with Andy LaVigne, ASTA
Posted By Cathryn December 18, 2013
Washington-insider newspaper, The Hill, published its top ten list of lobbying victories in 2013 today and, in doing so, dealt a death blow to arguments that the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to lower the volume of ethanol required under the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2014 is based in a sound argument. Giving the number five slot to the American Petroleum Institute, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing, and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, the paper chalked up the decision as a big win for big oil’s powerful lobby.
“The oil and gas industry, with a little help from food producers, won a victory over the ethanol mandate in 2013.
“Breaking with precedent, the Environmental Protection Agency for the first time declined to increase the amount of ethanol and other biofuels that must be mixed into gasoline.
“The EPA is now proposing to lower the mandate, beginning what ethanol opponents hope will be a steady retreat away from the fuel requirements in the years ahead.”
The EPA, a government agency presumably tasked with basing decisions in sound science with consideration given to economic implications, should be better than this. Depriving American consumers of renewable, sustainable biofuels in the service of Big Oil does not make environmental or economic sense. This politically-motivated policy does not meet the high standard the American people should set for such a powerful agency.
Let the EPA know that its proposed rule will be scrutinized outside of the Beltway, where the tax revenue that supports DC salaries is actually generated. Learn more about NCGA’s Don’t Gut the RFS campaign by clicking here.
Posted By Cindy December 17, 2013
Dr. Jude Capper is a livestock sustainability consultant, professor of animal sciences, and a “bovidiva” according to her blog of the same name.
Last week she did a great post entitled “Activism 101 – How to Write Like An Angry Internet “Expert” on GMOs.” An asterisk after the word “expert” points to a footnote:
*Note that being an “expert” does not involve education, higher degrees or being employed within the industry in question. Nowadays you can only be an expert if you are entirely impartial, third-party, and preferably know nothing whatsoever about the system in question. On that basis, I’m off to write a book about Zen Dentistry.
She offers nine points on how to write like an angry GMO expert, the final one being – “If all else fails, invoke the name of the evil that must be named….ahem, Monsanto. If you say it three times into a mirror, an ancient agricultural god will appear and wreak vengeance upon the earth. Honestly, I saw it on Oprah.”
Jude is hilarious, satirical, and often outrageous and if so much of this blog post were not sadly true it would be a lot funnier.
Read it and weep or LOL – or both.
Posted By Mark December 11, 2013
What was the second biggest policy story of the year in eyes of the petroleum industry? According to a recent membership survey by the American Petroleum Institute reconsidering biofuel (ethanol) blending. What was the second biggest transportation, storage and refining story of the year? The battle over biofuels blending. And what was listed 2nd on oil’s list of things they most want to see happen in 2014? Yep, reduction in EPA blending requirements.
Most of the public are too focused on their jobs, raising families and just paying the bills to have a deep understanding of the growing role of biofuels and renewable ethanol in our nation. However, years of education by supporters of the domestic fuel have generated a basic awareness of ethanol’s benefits such as job creation, reducing greenhouse gas, and providing a fuel choice that makes us less reliant on imported petroleum.
Because of this hard fought and well deserved perception that ethanol is good, many of my friends have been asking me lately what the heck is going on with the rash of negative information related to ethanol. How did proven ethanol suddenly become a bad idea over night? Most recently, the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to reduce the amount of ethanol to be blended in our fuel supply has been getting a lot of media attention.
Put simply, the oil industry has always been ok with ethanol as long as the market share didn’t get too large. In fact they need a certain amount of ethanol because it allows them to provide a high octane product at less cost…meaning more margin for them. Without ethanol they would be forced to do more extensive and costly refining in order to produce a product that won’t leave your car sputtering curbside.
But in today’s market things have changed. Increasing domestic oil production, more fuel efficient vehicles and a soft economy have shrunk the volume of fuel needed. Thus big oil finds themselves looking at the bigger market slice on ethanol’s plate and thinks “hey we want some of that back.”
The unspoken part of the previous statement is “and yes we will pay nicely to get it.” And they have done so in recent years. Their most recent onslaught has been sustained by millions of dollars of lobbying, advertising and poor pseudo-journalism.
You might be inclined to think the family farmers and independent businessmen that make up the ethanol industry are just paranoid but given the aforementioned high priority petroleum has placed on this issue, “it ain’t paranoia if they’re really out to get ya.”