Citizen Testimony at EPA RFS Hearing

epa-hearing-austinOf the more than 240 stakeholders who testified at the EPA hearing last week on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), at least 35 were citizens who spoke about why they felt it was important for our nation to continuing increasing the use of biofuels.

One of those was Austin Ludowese (pictured far left) of Stewart, Minnesota, who was raised on a family farm and is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Stout majoring in business administration. “I was here representing a lot of young farmers who have the desire to come back to the farm,” said Ludowese who told EPA how the RFS encouraging ethanol production has helped his small community.

Ludowese says he was encouraged by the turnout at the hearing. “It really is overwhelming to see all the different supporters come from all the different areas, whether it’s an ethanol plant or just a simple farmer,” he said. “It’s a lot of the same message just expressed in different ways.”

He added that he does believe the EPA is listening and paying attention to what the stakeholders have to say about the RFS.

Interview with EPA hearing witness Austin Ludowese

EPA RFS Public Hearing photo album

Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing is sponsored by
Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing sponsored by RFA

Farmers Live #EarthDay Every Day

earth-day-2015This year marks the 45th anniversary of Earth Day but farmers have been living the spirit of stewardship for natural resources for generations and have been leaders in the generation of renewable energy sources like biofuels, wind and solar.

“For hundreds of years, America’s farmers have been working our land and providing the country and the world with high quality food, feed, fiber and fuel,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis. “Today, on Earth Day, we are proud that our industry will keep getting cleaner, keep farming more efficiently and keep discovering new ways to fuel America with biomass and waste products that represent a smarter, cleaner, homegrown alternative to foreign oil.”

Celebrate National Biodiesel Day

rudolf-dieselNational Biodiesel Day is March 18, and the Iowa Biodiesel Board is suggesting that farmers ask for and use biodiesel as they head into spring planting.

“We’re challenging every farmer in Iowa to request that their fuel distributor offer biodiesel blends this spring,” said Grant Kimberley, IBB executive director and a soybean farmer who uses biodiesel on his farm. “A thriving biodiesel market helps everyone in the ag sector.”

March 18 is National Biodiesel Day because it is the birthday of Rudolf Diesel, the man who invented the engine that bears his name. He ran early models on peanut oil, and was a visionary for renewable fuel.

“I urge farmers to recognize the importance that renewable energy has in a strong and vibrant farming future,” said Ron Heck, an Iowa soybean farmer and IBB officer. “Those of us in the farming community must walk-the-walk by supporting clean energy solutions on the farm.”

Heck noted he has used biodiesel on his own farm for many years. But a poll of more than 360 Iowa farmers conducted this winter by the Iowa Soybean Association finds room for increased biodiesel use. About 41 percent said they use biodiesel in their farming operations. “Not readily available” was the primary reason cited for not using the fuel. However, availability has improved the last several years due to favorable state legislation.

Biodiesel can be used in any diesel engine in blends of up to 20 percent (B20). All of the major Original Equipment Manufacturers producing engines and equipment for the U.S. agricultural market support B20 or higher in their warranty position statements.

Anti-RFS Bill Re-Introduced

Representatives Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Steve Womack (R-AR) and Peter Welch (D-VT), today re-introduced legislation called the RFS Reform Act “to reform the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to help ease concerns created by the ethanol mandate and protect consumers, livestock producers, food manufacturers, retailers, and the U.S. economy.”

Livestock and poultry producer organizations are among those supporting the bill, but general farm groups and corn growers say the RFS is working fine just the way it is.

mess-rfs“The elimination of the corn-based ethanol mandate and blend cap will gut the nation’s biofuel production, strand existing investment in second generation biofuel production and hurt family farmers, ranchers and rural communities that have experienced much-needed reinvestment from this policy,” said National Farmers Union president Roger Johnson. “This is not only a bad step for agriculture, but also is a major setback to the environment and our nation’s attempts to manage its carbon emissions.”

National Corn Growers Association president Chip Bowling notes that “the price of corn today is lower than the cost of production, and less than when the RFS was passed” and that “repealing the RFS would increase the cost of farm programs, hurt rural communities, and make America more dependent on foreign oil.”

Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen called the legislation a “reckless paean to Big Oil” and said it was “a slap in the face to corn farmers across the country who responded to the RFS with increased production and yields.”

Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis
says the bill is also a gift to Big Food “in their effort to extend their record profitability by blaming ethanol for food price increases” even as corn prices have been declining. “This has provided an economic boon to the integrated U.S. livestock and chain restaurant industries that tout their profitability to their stakeholders while consumer food prices, led by the meat sector, continue to escalate,” said Buis.

According to the sponsors, the RFS Reform Act “eliminates the corn-based ethanol requirement, caps the amount of ethanol that can be blended into conventional gasoline at 10 percent, and requires the EPA to set cellulosic biofuels levels at production levels.” There are currently 34 co-sponsors for the bill.

PacificAg Can Help Ethanol Plants Go Cellulosic

pacificag-logoThe largest and most experienced biomass harvest company in the country wants to help ethanol plants develop or expand operations into the production of cellulosic ethanol by saving time and money on supply chain development. PacificAg, which is already supplying biomass for plants in Iowa and Kansas, enables cellulosic biorefineries the ability to source cost-competitive biomass for biofuel and biochemical production.

PacificAg started in the residue management business nearly 20 years ago harvesting forage crops for feed in Oregon and CEO Bill Levy says they have expanded to meet the needs of the growing biofuels industry in the Midwest.

pacificag-harvest“We can save an ethanol plant the time and money in developing a supply chain,” says Levy. “It’s a very specific supply chain with very specific challenges and I think we have a lot of experience overcoming these challenges and developing these supply chains quicker than anybody else.”

Biomass products include corn stover, wheat straw and milo stover products because of their abundance and supply. “What we’ve found in the Midwest is that not all growers are accustomed to removing this supply,” says Levy, stressing that a major component of their suite of services includes a balanced residue management program.

There are two critical elements an ethanol plant must consider when ramping up cellulosic ethanol production: year round biomass supply and sustainability around biomass residue harvest.

Harrison Pettit, a company partner who works with ethanol plants to help them get their biomass programs off the ground, notes that market needs for advanced biofuels industry are long-term and year round. “Ethanol plants are built to operate for more than 30 years.”

How does a grower know if he or she should participate in a biomass residue harvest program? Pettit says the first question to ask is, Are you within 100 miles of a cellulosic ethanol facility? “If you are a corn grower, wheat grower or milo grower, then you really ought to give us a call,” says Pettit. “If you really want to learn about how a residue management program can benefit your ground and benefit your bank account, then we want to talk.”

Learn more about PacificAg and the services they offer for both farmers and ethanol plants in these interviews with Levy and Pettit.
Interview with PacificAg CEO Bill Levy Interview with PacificAg partner Harrison Pettit

Thanksgiving Blessings to All

thanksgiving-2014aO God, source and giver of all things,
You manifest your infinite majesty, power and goodness
In the earth about us:
We give you honor and glory.
For the sun and the rain,
For the manifold fruits of our fields:
For the increase of our herds and flocks,
We thank you.
For the enrichment of our souls with divine grace,
We are grateful.

Supreme Lord of the harvest,
Graciously accept us and the fruits of our toil,
In union with Jesus, your Son,
As atonement for our sins,
For the growth of your Church,
For peace and love in our homes,
And for salvation for all.
We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.