Federal Ethanol Policy Cited as “Doing What it Was Intended to Do”

Nearly 1/3 of all the corn has been harvested in Nebraska.

LINCOLN, NE—Ethanol policy in the United States has been one of the most successful federal programs in recent history—doing exactly what it was originally intended to do, according to corn and ethanol industry officials in Nebraska.

“It’s important to remember why the modern ethanol industry began in the first place,” said Todd Sneller, administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board.  “We did not want our nation to continue to be held hostage to foreign oil imports and we wanted to take greater control over our domestic fuel supply.   Federal policy regarding renewable fuels has created more choices at the pump for consumers, helped drive down fuel costs, and created economic vitality across Nebraska and the nation.  Bottom line: Ethanol policy in the United States is working.”

Nebraska is the nation’s second largest ethanol producer and third largest corn producer.   Ethanol production also creates distillers grains, a high-quality livestock feed that has attracted millions of head of cattle to Nebraska to be finished prior to processing.

A healthy rural economy, spurred in large part by ethanol production and strong commodity prices—driven in great part by weather conditions in recent years—has helped Nebraska manage difficult economic times more successfully than most of the rest of the nation.

As the ethanol industry has grown, Nebraska’s corn farmers have enjoyed a significant value-added market for their product.  “We’re looking at record corn harvests this year and a national corn reserve pushing two billion bushels,” said Don Hutchens, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board.  “America’s farmers are doing their job in growing food, fuel and feed to meet global demand—and they’ve done it by using technology and innovation to grow more corn with less land, less water and less impact on the environment.”

An Associated Press story published earlier this week attempted to draw a correlation between ethanol production and reduced conservation practices among American farmers. The story was widely criticized as an unwarranted and misinformed attack on American agriculture. Even U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack weighed in to point out a number of factual “errors and inaccuracies” in the story, especially related to conservation programs.

“This story was one of the worst examples of professional journalism I’ve seen in a very long time, but the story got one thing right when it pointed out that oil is bad,” Hutchens said.  “Petroleum based fuels are polluting our air, land and water, causing human health concerns and costing America billions of dollars being sent to foreign oil suppliers.”

Energy costs—especially transportation fuel—have a dramatic effect on household income and overall economic vitality across the U.S.  Having ethanol in the nation’s transportation fuel supply helps mitigate the effect of geopolitics, refinery shutdowns and other factors that influence oil prices and supply, Sneller said.

“Does anyone really believe that gas prices are going to stay below $3 per gallon forever?” said Todd Sneller, administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board.  “Requiring petroleum marketers to include ethanol in a certain percentage of their products helps ensure choice, competition and cost-savings to American consumers—while increasing the total volume of our domestic fuel supply.  Without this requirement, all of us end up living with a 100 percent oil mandate.”

EDITORS/NEWS DIRECTORS:  For more information, including responses to the Associated Press story that ran this week, please contact the Nebraska Corn Board at 402.471.2676 or Nebraska Ethanol Board at 402.471.2941.

For a factual rebuttal of the Associated Press story provided by the Renewable Fuels Association, click here

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