Republican Candidates: ‘We Can Fix America’

The battle cry of the presidential Republican candidates is to fix America through debt elimination, military strength and cooperation. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and Senator from South Carolina Lindsey Graham took the stage during the Des Moines Register’s Soapbox and spoke to thousands of people at the Iowa State Fair. While the crowd is supposed to be polite, manners took a back stage during Walker’s remarks especially when he said, “If we can fix a state like Wisconsin we can fix America.”

The candidates want to take the power out of Washington, D.C. and bring it back to the state houses and to the hard working people. Walker, somewhat in jest, said Washington is 68 square miles surrounded by reality. Let’s take a look at what the candidates believe is reality.

Scott WalkerScott Walker is calling for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be reigned in. He said they are killing the farmers (he was referring to WOTUS, or the Waters of the U.S.) and is pushing for an all above energy strategy. He approved the Keystone Pipeline on the first vote and continues to do so. In terms of climate change he said that there needs to be a balance between sustainable environment and a sustainable economy. He does not support the “ethanol mandate” or the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) but because it is in place and there is an industry based on the legislation the country needs to support the bill. However, he is pushing for consumer choice at the pump through market access and availability at the pump for higher blends of ethanol. His state has offered grants for retail stations, especially those independently owned, to be able to put flex fuel pumps and offer additional ethanol blends.

Listen to why Wisconsin Governor wants to be president here:Scott Walker at the Iowa State Fair

Lindsey GrahamLindsey Graham spent the majority of his time discussing his military strategy. He said there are, “Too many terrorists. Too much debt. Too few jobs.” He has been in the Air Force for 33 years and spent time in Iraq and Afghanistan while he was in the reserves. He stressed that he is the first candidate to push to go back to war not end war. “If I’m elected we going to go back and pound them into the sand,” he said of Iraq. He did not address energy, environment or agriculture so we’ll have to continue to follow his campaign to see if and what his stance is on these issues.

Listen to why Senator Lindsey Graham wants to be president here:Lindsey Graham at the Iowa State Fair

Carly FiorinaWhile some candidates didn’t use any of their time to take questions, Carly Fiorina dedicated the majority of her time in answering questions. Like others, she believes the minimum wage should be increased but not uniformly; rather, the pay should be comparable to the cost of living which is different not only from state to state but from city to city. She too took aim at the EPA and stressed innovation rather than regulation will be more effective. And like Walker, she too doesn’t support ethanol mandates and believes they should be phased out. Needless to say, this position is not too popular in country’s largest ethanol producing state. Similar to Graham, she did not directly address agriculture or the environment.

Listen to why Carly Fiorina wants to be president here:Carly Fiorina at the Iowa State Fair

Click here to read our coverage of the Des Moines Register Presidential Soapbox series at the Iowa State Fair.

Jeb Bush Kicks off Fair Speech on Energy

Republican Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida and presidential hopeful, kicked off his time on the Presidential Soapbox promoting his support of renewable energy and agriculture. Florida has a huge agriculture community and is home to one of the first advanced cellulosic facilities, Ineos Bio located in Vera Beach, that began production in May of 2013. The plant uses wood, plant and landfill waste. And this May, the Advanced Disposal plant began producing gas-to-energy from the emissions created by the Sarasota County, Florida landfill.

Bush began his Jeb Bush at Presidential Soapboxremarks by focusing on an America in decline. But unlike his predecessors, he enveloped his support of two of Iowa’s largest industry’s – renewable energy and agriculture – at the very beginning of his talk rather than waiting until he was asked by an Iowa State fairgoer his stand of the two issues.

Bush noted that the EPA, through its Clean Air Act, “will stifle the ability for industry to be created and agriculture to work leading the world”. “We have serious, serious problems,” continued Bush. “We need to embrace the energy revolution, and be energy secure with North American resources in a short period of time with American ingenuity, American innovation and American technology.”

Listen to why Jeb Bush wants to be president here:Jeb Bush at the Iowa State Fair

Click here to read our coverage of the Des Moines Register Presidential Soapbox series at the Iowa State Fair.

Dems Webb & O’Malley Take the Soapbox

Democratic hopeful presidential candidates Jim Webb and Martin O’Malley both appeared on the Des Moines Register’s Presidential Soapbox yesterday afternoon speaking to hundreds of Iowans attending the Iowa State Fair. They have some fundamental issues in common, including both the need for better education and to bring the American dream, aka the economy, back to Americans. While Webb’s plans to do so were a bit more fluid, O’Malley pitched his 15 point plan to American prosperity. This includes tackling climate change and fostering global sustainably development.

Jim Webb at Presidential SoapboxIn terms of energy Jim Webb supports agriculture and renewable energy. He supports the pipeline and says that reports show environmentally the pipeline is neutral. He said he supports an “all above” energy strategy and that includes nuclear energy. He noted America has the safest, best managed nuclear program in the world and it is “totally” clean.

When asked if he supported the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) he replied that he supported renewable energy. He said Iowa is the perfect example of a place where it can work. He has visited a wind farm and an ethanol plant and said he was impressed with the technological advancements seen in the ethanol industry.

To learn more about why Jim Webb wants to be our next president listen to his speech here: Jim Webb at the Iowa State Fair

Martin O'Malley at Presidential SoapboxDuring the question and answer portion of the speech, O’Malley was asked about renewable energy, in particular the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan. He advocates for a clean energy grid by 2050 that he says will be “just in the nick of time”. He noted that in Iowa, 30 percent of electricity not only comes from wind energy, but highlighted the fact that multiple wind turbine components are manufactured in the state as well. He touted Hawaii’s goal of 100 percent renewable electricity and California’s 50 percent goal.

O’Malley also stressed that Renewable Energy Portfolios (REPs/RES) and the RFS should not only stay in place, but they should be expanded. He stressed that these are the drivers of American ingenuity in technology development and the next generation of clean energy technologies.

To learn more about why Martin O’Malley wants to be our next president listen to his speech here: Martin O'Malley at the Iowa State Fair

Mike Huckabee on the Soapbox

Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas (the state of the Clinton’s), took the soapbox this morning as the kick-off candidate of the Des Moines Register’s Presidential Soapbox series taking place during the Iowa State Fair. He was the winner of Iowa’s 2008 Republican Caucuses. Now back to the Clintons for a moment. Huckabee worked and fought and campaigned against them for many years and said he won, then noted, “I hear Hillary Clinton could not come. She will email in her appearances”.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee addresses the crowds on the Presidential Soapbox during the Iowa State Fair.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee addresses the crowds on the Presidential Soapbox during the Iowa State Fair.

Since this is a site about alternative energy, I will be focusing my reporting on his views (and other candidates as well) on this issue. However, I will throw in some of his campaign platform issues as well.

For Huckabee, these are getting America back on a solid economic, security and moral ground. Through his “fair tax” he wants to bring manufacturing jobs back home and enable companies to build the products that are created in our own country competitively. He wants our military to be so strong, “nobody around the globe ever wants to pick a fight with us’. He wants to dismantle the IRS and bring frugal spending back to Congress. He noted, “We spend our campaign money like you wish the government spent your tax money. We try to be frugal.”

In terms of the biofuels and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), he said he is a big supporter. Why? Because our government made a promise to the farmers and those in the biofuels industry. “The government came to American farmers and asked them to engage in a process,” said Huckabee. To pull out disrupts an economy. He said the government made a promise to farmers and the renewable fuel industry and pulling out “just messed up people who trusted their government”. He feels the same about how veterans and those on social security and Medicaid are also being treated.

In closing, Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey encourages everyone, including presidential candidates, to #GetYourAgOn at the Iowa State Fair.

To learn more about why Mike Huckabee wants to be our next president listen to his speech here: Mike Huckabee at the Iowa State Fair

Iowa State Fair to Host Prez Soapbox

dms-register-soapboxIowa State Fair visitors have an opportunity to see what presidential candidates think about energy and agricultural issues compliments of the Des Moines Register’s Presidential Soapbox series.

A majority of the presidential candidates from both parties have confirmed they will speak from the soapbox during the fair. A total of 14 Republicans and four Democrats are on the soapbox schedule starting Thursday August 13 through Saturday August 22. Notably missing from the list are the frontrunners for both parties – Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Check the schedule from the Des Moines Register for updates. Candidate speeches will be live-streamed at The ZimmComm blogging team will be following the Presidential Soapbox series as well and bring you news of relevant issues.

USDA Builds Rural Energy with Loans & Grants

usda-logoThe U.S. Department of Agriculture is helping build renewable energy in rural areas. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $63 million in loans and grants for 264 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects nationwide that USDA is supporting through its Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).

“This funding will have far-reaching economic and environmental impacts nationwide, particularly in rural communities,” Vilsack said. “Investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects supports home-grown energy sources, creates jobs, reduces greenhouse gas pollution and helps usher in a more secure energy future for the nation.”

These REAP projects are expected to generate and/or save 207.8 million kilowatt hours (KWh) of energy – enough to power more than 13,600 homes for a year.

The next application deadline for REAP grants is November 2, 2015.

ASA Wants RFS Biodiesel Goals to be Realistic

ams15-asa-wadeGoals for biodiesel in the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) recently announced by the government could be a bit better and should be realistic, as the green fuel benefits everyone and gains some unlikely allies. Cindy caught up with Wade Cowan, Texas farmer and president of the American Soybean Association (ASA) during the Ag Media Summit and got his thoughts on biodiesel and what the Environmental Protection Agency’s goals on biodiesel in the RFS means.

“We would hope [the EPA] would raise the goals [to high but attainable levels],” he said. “It’s a product that not only helps all the consumers in the country who use diesel, but it also helps livestock producers” by keeping a steady supply of soybean meal available. “We’re not asking for the moon, but we want [the RFS goals] high enough to keep making the industry want to go forward and be more productive.”

Wade said biodiesel even has fans in the oil industry.

“They like biodiesel, because someone has to distribute it,” adding companies like Exxon are also interested in helping make the environment better and reduce the U.S.’ dependence on foreign oil. “They’re in it with us, and we expect to see more and more cooperation.”

You can hear all of Cindy’s interview with Wade (or if you’re impatient and just want to get to the biodiesel parts, fast-forward to about the 5:00 mark) here: Interview with Wade Cowan, ASA president

2015 Ag Media Summit Photo Album

Biodiesel, Livestock Industries Work Together in Iowa

IBBThe biodiesel and livestock industries are working together in Iowa. This news release from the Iowa Biodiesel Board (IBB) says poultry and livestock producers are seeing greater profits because of the green fuel.

That was the message … at Western Dubuque Biodiesel’s plant, where soybean groups hosted a tour of the biodiesel facility and gave an economic presentation to members of the state livestock industry. The United Soybean Board, Iowa Biodiesel Board and Iowa Soybean Association hosted about 40 ag leaders to share information and answer questions on how biodiesel impacts the profitability of the livestock industry.

An increased demand for biodiesel also increases the demand for domestic soybeans to crush, growing the supply of soybean meal. This greater supply lowers the meal’s price, which decreases the relative cost of it to poultry and livestock farmers.

That means in addition to soybean farmers, animal agriculture also benefits from biodiesel.

“Animal agriculture is the soybean farmer’s No. 1 customer with 97 percent of soybean meal going to feed poultry and livestock,” said Delbert Christensen, a soybean farmer from Audubon, Iowa and director on USB. “Biodiesel helps animal agriculture by creating demand for soybean oil, which helps lower the cost of animal feed and creates an additional market for animal fats.”

More demand for biodiesel helps keep soybean meal prices competitive as demand for soybeans continues to rise globally, while biodiesel has also created demand for animal fats and tallow to be made into biodiesel. IBB says for Iowa farmers, these meal savings and increased fat and tallow values really add up. In 2013 alone, pork farmers saved $60,802,700 and dairy and beef farmers saved $25,511,700 respectively, strengthening animal agriculture in the state. Biodiesel by-product glycerin also can be an additional energy source in feed troughs.

Enogen Corn for Ethanol Growers to Get Rebates

syngentaGrowers of Syngenta‘s Enogen corn, especially designed for ethanol production, will get rebates on some of their agricultural equipment. Chief Agri/Industrial Division will provide Enogen corn growers rebates on grain bins and other equipment.

A growing demand for high ethanol-yielding grain is creating the potential for corn growers to increase their income per acre. Earlier this year, Syngenta introduced the Ethanol Grain Quality Solution (EGQS), an initiative that includes agronomic protocols and best practices specifically designed to contribute to higher yields, improved grain quality and more ethanol per bushel.

“Grain quality requires attention to detail,” said Roger Townsend, President of Chief Agri/Industrial Division. “The goal should be to minimize quality deterioration at each step of production and during postharvest. We look forward to working with Enogen growers to help them maximize grain quality and return on investment.”

“Corn is the single biggest input cost for an ethanol plant, and ethanol yield per bushel is one of the biggest drivers of plant profitability,” said Guy Hartwig, head of Enogen grain operations at Syngenta. “Increasingly, ethanol plants are seeking not just clean, dry corn with little or no damage and foreign material, but also grain with quality characteristics that can maximize ethanol production per bushel, including more accessible starch. Chief’s industry-leading grain-handling technology and best-in-class customer service will help Enogen growers maximize profitability, while helping to support the ethanol industry.”

Chief’s stiffened bins have a great reputation for superior strength, durability and ease of installation. Greater access to technology and expertise from Chief will enable Enogen growers to provide ethanol plants with more high-quality corn.

Corn Growers Rally for RFS in DC

Hundreds of corn farmers from across America were in Washington D.C. today to rally for the cuts to corn ethanol in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFs) to be overturned. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed cutting corn ethanol by 3.75 billion gallons through 2016. According to the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), which sponsored the rally, this represents nearly 1.5 billion in lost corn demand.

NCGA RFS Rally“Our message to the EPA is clear and unequivocal: Don’t mess with the RFS,” said NCGA Chairman Martin Barbre, a farmer from Carmi, Illinois. “We are gathered here today because we all understand what’s at stake.”

Barbre spoke with from the Hill this afternoon and said that legislators really don’t understand how the RFS works. When corn growers and others who support the RFS sit down with them and their staff and walk them through the legislation, he explained, and get a better understanding that corn growers can meet the demand for food, fiber and fuel, they support the RFS returning to levels in which they were intended to be as set forth by the legislation.

Rally attendees heard from Senator Mark Kirk, Representative Tammy Duckworth, farmers, and ethanol industry leaders on the importance of ethanol to strengthening rural economies and protecting our environment and national security. Following the rally, corn farmers visited their congressional offices to spend some one-on-one time in dialogue about the RFS, its importance to rural America, and to assure them, stressed Barbre, that the industry will continue to meet and exceed national and global demands.

Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill) note during his rally remarks, “Illinois farmers export more than a billion bushels of corn annually. That is why I supported them on trade and will continue to support them in the fight for a fair Renewable Fuel Standard.”

Representative Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill) added, “American investors and consumers at the gas pump are better off supporting American jobs and access to clean, secure American energy, rather than Middle Eastern oil. As a veteran and a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I see renewable, home-grown fuel as not only critical for our environment and our economy, but also as a national security imperative.”

To close the rally NCGA President Chip Bowling, a farmer from Newburg, Maryland, urged farmers to stand up and make their voice heard. “Now is the time for farmers to stand up for your farms, your families, your communities, and our country,” said Bowling. “We must hold Congress to its promises – and hold the EPA to the law.”

Hear more about the rally and why the EPA shouldn’t mess with the RFS by listening to my interview with Martin Barbre here: Martin Barbre RFS Rally Interview