Energy Bill Positive for Nebraska Farmers

New RFS will keep corn as main ethanol source.

With Congressional passage of the Energy Bill and President Bush's signature, the United States government has taken meaningful steps toward U.S. energy independence, according to Nebraska corn growers.

The bill creates a 15 billion gallon Renewable Fuels Standard for grain-based fuels, which will be met primarily by corn based ethanol. The bill establishes a total RFS of 36 billion gallons by 2022, up from the current level of 7.5 billion gallons. This also includes a 1-billion-gallon requirement for biodiesel and requirements for cellulosic ethanol.

Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards will be raised to 35 miles per gallon by 2020, the first increase of its kind in 32 years. Studies on the feasibility of ethanol pipelines, higher ethanol blend levels and the optimization of flex fuel vehicles also add positive aspects to the bill.

The success of ethanol, corn and livestock are critical to the economic well being of Nebraska, says Randy Klein, director of market development for the Nebraska Corn Board. A typical 100-million-gallon ethanol plant adds on average 50 direct jobs, nearly $4.5 million in tax revenue, 139 indirect jobs, a local market for corn and a co-product of distillers grains that can add value to Nebraska's livestock industry. Total output from a plant is nearly $250 million.

Nebraska ranks third in corn production, second in ethanol and distillers grains production and either second or third in beef cattle production. The combination of these industries adds $13 billion in direct value to Nebraska's economy.

"Passage of this bill will help keep our ethanol industry on solid ground and help counter the negative impact of $90 per barrel crude oil," says Klein. "It took a full-fledged effort for us to educate the public on the merits of expanding our renewable energy and that is why the Nebraska Corn Board launched a campaign last month, financed with checkoff dollars and industry contributions, to respond to negative claims regarding food costs, energy efficiencies, water, and impacts on the livestock industry."

The campaign, called "Powering Nebraska's Economy with Corn" utilized print and radio exposure to provide facts about our energy situation.

According to Stan Boehr of rural Henderson and chairman of the government affairs committee of the Nebraska Corn Board, "Agriculture would not be in the positive position it is today had it not been for farmers out their pushing for renewable energy, this will bode well for our state in general and our country's energy independence. It took hard work, checkoff investment and a partnership with our congressional delegation to get us to where we are today."

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