As North Dakota farmer Kevin Skunes takes the reigns as the new First Vice President of the Board for the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) for fiscal year 2017, he says two of the greatest challenges he sees for corn farmers is both increasing demand and the ability to meet increasing demand. One area that can increase demand for corn is ethanol and the resulting co-products such as corn oil, which can be processed into biodiesel, and dried distillers grains (DDGs) a growing export market in particular. In an interview with Off the Cob, Skunes says one of the biggest demand drivers for corn will be the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
“The first demand that I referenced is the Renewable Fuel Standard,” he explains. “This program, which the United States has in place, facilitates the mixing of ethanol into the fuel supply. We know that ethanol is a high priority for NCGA, because it generates demand for corn. I don’t want to make it too simple, but it is very important that we have this. The RFS puts forth a mandate that we have 15 billion gallons of corn in the fuel supply. The EPA has set the Renewable Volume Obligation below that for this year. We believe that EPA should follow the statute.”
In an interview AgWired did with Skunes during this year’s Farm Progress Show, he also mentioned that increasing fueling infrastructure for higher blends of ethanol such as E15, E30, E85 and anything in between will also help drive demand above and beyond the so-called blend wall. NCGA, on behalf of its growers, is participating in the Prime the Pump program – an initiative to assist retailers with the costs to update ethanol infrastructure. To date, more than $210 million has been allocated by the ethanol industry, including NCGA, individual states and the USDA to ensure consumers have access to higher blends of ethanol.