NCGA: Small Engine Industry Must Change

Small engines and the use of ethanol has been in the news lately with spring approaching. This week, National Corn Growers Association CEO Chris Novak published the following editorial.

The Small Engine Industry Needs to Change with the Times
By National Corn Growers Association CEO Chris Novak

NCGA-Logo-3The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), which represents the small engine industry, just released their annual survey results concerning consumer knowledge of small engine fuel options. Based upon the results of the survey, corn farmers and small engine manufacturers can agree that consumers need and deserve more information about today’s fuel options. We know from our own consumer research that consumers are hungry for information about the positive effects of ethanol blended fuels.

Further, we agree with the OPEI on two other points: 1. The OPEI acknowledges that E10 is safe for use in small engines like motorcycles, lawn mowers, trimmers, boats and snowmobiles; and 2. The OPEI notes that federal law prohibits the use of higher ethanol fuel blends in outdoor power equipment. Beyond these points of agreement, however, lays a significantly different view of the future.

Our farmers believe that consumers having a choice of fuels is a good thing. Whether you choose renewable ethanol because you want cleaner air or because you like purchasing an American grown fuel or because higher blends of ethanol are frequently priced lower than gasoline-the bottom line is that you should have the choice if you want to kick your oil addiction. The OPEI’s press release suggests that you, as a consumer, can’t handle this choice-that you lack the ability to know the differences between regular gasoline and higher ethanol blends like E-15 or E-85. We trust consumers to make the right choice of fuel – whether it is for their cars or small engine.

Today, our farmers are working with the auto industry to examine how higher blends of ethanol, ranging from E-15 to E-25, can boost gasoline octane. Higher gasoline octane can improve engine performance and help the auto industry achieve higher Corporate Average Fuel Economy mileage targets. Likewise, it is time for the nation’s small engine manufacturers to stop fighting renewable fuels and, instead, begin working to ensure tomorrow’s small engines can run on tomorrow’s renewable fuels.

Rather than fighting choice and change, our nation’s small engine manufacturers should work to develop engines that can run safely on higher blends of renewable fuels. Perhaps then, instead of bemoaning the lack of consumer knowledge and issuing dire warnings-the OPEI can offer consumers something real: the opportunity to make a clean and renewable choice.

USDA Reports Positive for #Corn Supplies

USDAThe 2016 Prospective Plantings report out today from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) shows farmers expect to plant more corn than expected this year.

U.S. corn growers expect to plant 93.6 million acres to corn this year, the first increase in corn planted acreage since 2012 and, if realized, will be the third largest corn acreage since 1944. Farmers in 41 out of the 48 states expect to either maintain or increase the number of acres they plant to corn. Growers in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, and North Dakota expect to increase their corn acreage by 400,000 or more acres in 2016. Assuming the five-year average 91.3 percent harvest rate and the projected 25-year trend yield of 165.4 bushels per acre is achieved, farmers will harvest 14.13 billion bushels, nearing the production record of 14.2 billion bushels set in 2014, according to the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA).

In addition, the new grain stocks report increases corn stocks in all positions as of March 1 by one percent compared to this time last year. Stocks totaled 7.81 billion bushels and of the that, 4.34 billion bushels were stored on farms, down 1 percent from a year earlier. Off-farm stocks, at 3.47 billion bushels, are up 3 percent from a year ago.

“U.S. farmers produced an abundant crop in 2015. Given the strong carryover entering this growing season, we may see quite a large corn supply at harvest should weather prove favorable in 2016,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling. “While many factors may change the reality on the ground as planting progresses, American corn supplies should remain ample for the year to come. Given the impact this continues to have on prices, the work being done at NCGA to grow demand will prove even more important as we work to find markets for our product and remain profitable into the future.”

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen says the planting intentions show that American farmers are continuing to hold up their end of the deal when it comes to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). “They’ve made the investments and planting decisions necessary to provide adequate supplies of grain to meet all demands, including the feedstock needed to produce the 15 billion gallons of ethanol required in 2016 under the RFS statute,” commented Dinneen. “But by slashing the RFS requirements for 2016 below statutory levels, the Administration isn’t honoring its commitment to our nation’s farmers and is contributing to great economic uncertainty in the agriculture sector.”

Dinneen adds that the report underscores the importance of getting the RFS back on track and growing corn demand.

US and Nigerian #Corn Growers Talk #Ethanol

NCGA's Paul Bertels and Nigerian Corn Growers Association's Edwin Uche in front of the NCGA office.

NCGA’s Paul Bertels and Nigerian Corn Growers Association’s Edwin Uche in front of the NCGA office.

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) staffers welcomed the director of the Nigerian Corn Growers Association for a series of meetings this week on how farmers in the two nations can work together to increase corn demand.

Edwin Uche, director of the Nigerian Corn Growers Association, reached out for a meeting during the recent Maize Genetics Conference in Florida and expressed his excitement for NCGA’s work and enthusiasm for doing similar for farmers in Nigeria. During his visit to the NCGA office, Uche met with Vice President of Production and Stewardship Paul Bertels, Director of Communications Ken Colombini and Director of Development Joe Hodes.

Through a series of in-depth discussions, Uche explored ways in which he could increase corn demand in Nigeria while fostering acceptance of biotechnology and growing the country’s ethanol industry. A proponent of biotechnology in agriculture, Uche also hopes to move more farmers toward this productive technology and away from an ongoing reliance upon open pollinated varieties currently hampering yield in Nigeria.

Discussions yielded insights for NCGA as well. Uche shared his confusion as to how the idea of food versus fuel took hold in the United States, expressing that he sees how corn clearly provides an excellent way to meet both demands simultaneously. Additionally, his pro-biotechnology and pro-ethanol stances fostered hope for potential market growth in Nigeria which could lead to growth in American corn exports to the region.

#FlexMyChoice Massages at #Classic16

classic16-rfaVisitors to the 2016 Commodity Classic had the opportunity to voice their support for Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) and relax their aching muscles at the same time at the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) booth.

It was the first opportunity for RFA to get their recently launched “Flex My Choice” campaign in front of the agriculture industry and Vice President of Industry Relations Robert White says many of the people they spoke to at Classic had no idea that auto makers were cutting their production of FFVs. “It doesn’t matter what part of agriculture you’re coming from, the phasing out or elimination of flex fuel vehicles will be devastating to the advancement and growth of our industry,” said White.

Beginning this year, the fuel economy credits given to auto makers for building flex fuel vehicles were phased out. “Ironically, now we have incentives for natural gas vehicles, so we’re encouraging fossil fuel usage over an alternative like E85,” White said.

Classic attendees who visited the RFA booth were able to fill out post cards to be sent to the main three automobile manufacturers, as well as EPA. While doing that, they were also able to get a nice chair massage, which was welcome relief for many who spent the day walking through the huge trade show catering to corn, soybean, wheat and sorghum farmers.

Listen to Robert explain more about Flex My Choice in this interview: Interview with Robert White, RFA, at Commodity Classic

2016 Commodity Classic Photo Album

NCGA Identifies Ethanol as Driver for Demand

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) held a press conference this week during 2016 Commodity Classic to discuss several key issues facing the corn industry and highlight the efforts currently in place to create solutions to the challenges that have been facing growers.

NCGA president Chip BowlingNCGA Present Chip Bowling, a corn grower from Newburg, Maryland, said that the most important action the organization is taking on behalf of its members is creating more demand for corn products. Ethanol, said Bowling, is an important element to increasing demand.

“Ethanol is the most important driver for future growth of corn demand,” said Bowling during his remarks. “We’re investing in fuel pump infrastructure that will give customers more access to higher ethanol blends. USDA has provided $100 million in matching grants to help us with this effort. We’re also pushing for changes that would give every American year round access to E15. At the same time we’re protecting the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which provides renewable, clean energy and increases our nation’s energy independence.”

Bowling noted that in January, NCGA banded with other organizations in court to challenge the EPA’s renewable volume obligations (RVS) under the RFS, which are under statutory levels. “We’re pushing for our case to be heard before EPA announces 2017 RVO numbers that are supposedly coming out at the end of March.”

Listen to the full press conference here:
NCGA Press Conference at Commodity Classic

2016 Commodity Classic Photo Album

Ethanol Cmte Looks at Cal’s Green Fuel Industry

ethanolcal1California has an ethanol industry that is growing in size and importance. That’s why members of the National Corn Growers Association’s Ethanol Committee went to Sacramento last week to meet with California regulators and ethanol industry representatives in this important market. This news release from NCGA says the meetings focused on existing market conditions, modeling to calculate greenhouse gas emissions and efforts being made to expand higher blends of ethanol at the retail level.

Anil Prabhu of the California Air Resources Board’s Transportation Fuel Branch in Sacramento discussed the history behind CARB’s carbon emissions scoring and the criteria contained in the current Low Carbon Fuel Standard. According to Prabhu, there is potential for improving the methodologies for the models CARB uses. The Ethanol Committee will continue to serve as a resource for CARB as they seek to improve their scoring methodologies.

“California’s low carbon fuels standard presents an excellent opportunity for higher ethanol fuel blends to perform well in this market,” said Ethanol Committee Chair Paul Jeschke. “Although there have been improvements made in the GHG number assigned to corn ethanol by CARB, corn farmers feel there is more work to be done in order for CARB to recognize the true benefits of corn ethanol under California’s LCFS Program.”

The committee also met with Tom Koehler of Pacific Ethanol and Rob Elam, CEO of Propel Fuels, to discuss the E85 marketing efforts these companies are using in California. Pacific Ethanol supplies ethanol to Propel Fuels which is the largest E85 retailer in California. Low carbon fuels are more affordable than gasoline in this market. However, only three percent of the available market is being served. The keys to Propel’s success in capturing 75 percent of the current E85 market are ownership and maintenance of E85 infrastructure, extensive analytics and aggressive marketing to Flex Fuel Vehicle owners. After the presentation, the committee visited a retail station in a high FFV volume area where Propel has a canopy with dedicated pumps for higher blends.

Groups Sue EPA Over RFS

A coalition has sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), over the final rules of the Renewable Fuel Standard for 2014, 2015 and 2016 that were finalized near the end of last year. The current levels for fuels do not meet legislative mandates for those years regardless of the fact that the biofuels industry has shown they can meet fuel volumes.

rfs-mess-2A group that consists of seven industry associations including BIO, Americans for Clean Energy, American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), Growth Energy, National Corn Growers Association, the National Sorghum Producers, filed the suit on Friday, January 8, 2016 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Case 16-1005).

According to a group statement, among other things, the petitioners intend to demonstrate that EPA’s interpretation of its general waiver authority is contrary to the statute. By focusing on fuel distribution capacity and demand rather than supply, and by failing to consider surplus RINs from prior years, the Agency erroneously concluded that there was an inadequate supply of renewable fuel to justify a waiver of the levels established by Congress. The petitioners also plan to point out other fundamental flaws and inconsistencies in the government’s rule.

A preliminary, non-binding listing of issues to be raised in the court of appeals will be filed by February 11. The statement concluded, “The petitioners look forward to presenting their arguments to the court of appeals to provide clarity and certainty to market participants concerning the requirements of the statute.”

NCGA Disappointed in Congress’ Lack of RFS Support

The National Corn Growers Association is “deeply disappointed” that Members of Congress who represent corn-producing states have sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requesting a reduction in the volume of corn-ethanol blended into the fuel supply as required by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The letter was signed by 184 Members of Congress and according to Open Secrets, collectively, these legislators have received $39 million from the oil industry throughout their careers.

Photo credit Joanna Schroeder

Photo credit Joanna Schroeder

“I’m disappointed to see Members of Congress turn their back on farmers and rural communities,” said Wesley Spurlock, First Vice President of the National Corn Growers and a farmer from Stratford, Texas. The Renewable Fuel Standard has been one of the most successful energy policies ever enacted. The RFS works. It has reduced our dependence on foreign oil. It has made the rural economy stronger. And it has been better for the environment. It’s puzzling that these Representatives would not want to support it.”

On November 4, 2015, the House members made a request to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to reduce the Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) for corn-based ethanol, the amount of biofuels blended into the transportation fuel supply each year. NCGA states that this action would violate congressional statue. The organization cites an article from Bloomberg News that claims that the initial drafts of the congressional letter were written by an oil industry lobbyist.

“This letter has Big Oil’s fingerprints all over it,” continued Spurlock. “The letter includes false attacks on ethanol that have been disproven time and again. The blend wall is a false construct. We have known from the beginning that eventually we would need higher blends of ethanol to meet the statutory requirements. That was the point: to replace fossil fuels with renewables. The oil industry doesn’t want to hear that. That’s why they have spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to repeal the RFS, even to the point of having their lobbyists write this letter.”

Also responding to the letter was Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). “It should come as no surprise that, as the November 30th deadline for the EPA to issues its final rule on the 2014-2016 RVOs looms, the Big Oil spin machine has gone into overdrive and the petroleum industry is pulling out all the stops in an attempt to confuse the public and mislead policymakers about this important program. The fact that members of Congress are parroting Big Oil’s blend wall narrative is shameful evidence that money talks. Continue reading

Fuels America Launches New Ad Campaign

Fuels America is launching a new seven-figure TV and digital ad campaign today urging President Obama to make a choice between the oils industry and renewable fuels for the future.

fuels-americaThe campaign depicts President Obama’s choice of who to listen to when it comes to the Renewable Fuel Standard: his own experts who have repeatedly shown that ethanol and renewable fuel is dramatically reducing carbon emissions, or the oil industry, which has spent decades covering up the science and facts on both renewable fuel and climate science.

“President Obama’s choice on the Renewable Fuel Standard is clear. He can choose to listen to Big Oil’s distortions and lies, or he can listen to his own scientists who have shown that the RFS significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions,” said Brent Erickson, Executive Vice President at BIO.

“The truth is that slashing the amount of clean, domestic renewable fuel in our motor fuel supply would dramatically increase pollution and carbon emissions, while strengthening the RFS and building on the progress of the past 10 years would help in our efforts to combat climate change,” said National Corn Growers Association president Chip Bowling, a Maryland farmer.

The 30-second TV spot and digital ads are both airing in the Beltway. The campaign follows aggressive attempts by oil industry-funded special interest groups API and Smarter Fuel Future to discredit the climate benefits of renewable fuel—and as usual, their claims are false and wholly unsupported.

Listen to Erickson and Bowling announce the new campaign here: New Fuels America campaign





NASCAR Drives toward Championship on Ethanol

austindillon1It’s a big time of the year for race fans as NASCAR heads into the second round of it’s championship series this weekend. And this news article from the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) says American Ethanol is fueling that drive to the championship.

With E15 American Ethanol featured on the side of every car and on the start/re-start green flag, few sponsors in the sport have this broad exposure. It’s a great place to be to show millions of fans that E15 works.

Only 12 drivers remain eligible and have a shot at winning the Sprint Cup trophy entering the Bank of America 500, which airs at 6 p.m. CT Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Like the other 32 drivers rounding out the field who are not Chase eligible, American Ethanol driver Austin Dillon continues to drive for his first win of the season.

Dillon, one of the hottest young drivers in the sport, has championships in the Camping World Truck Series and the Xfinity Series. As he closes in on the end of his second Sprint season he is driving to hone his skills and for pride.

Check your local radio and TV listings to follow all the action fueled by American Ethanol.