Google+ Has Some Catching Up To Do

It looks like Facebook is still the big dog with this community. In our latest ZimmPoll we asked the question, “Do you use Facebook or Google+?” 50% of you said Facebook while only 7% said Google+. However, 20% said Both while 23% said Neither. Interesting. Looks like Google+ has a ways to go.

Our new ZimmPoll is now live. We’re asking the question, “With net farm income up this year, how is your income?” USDA’s Economic Research Service released it’s Net Farm Income Forecast update yesterday showing a 28% increase over 2010. The report also states, “Net cash income, at $109.8 billion, is forecast up $17.5 billion (18.9 percent) from 2010, and $34.2 billion above its 10-year average (2001-2010) of $75.6 billion.” Wow. How about you? How’s your income doing this year compared to last?

ZimmPoll is sponsored by Rhea+Kaiser, a full-service advertising/public relations agency.

RFA Responds to EU Ethanol Probe

The European Union (EU) has initiated anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations regarding U.S. exports of ethanol to Europe and current U.S. policies surrounding ethanol production and use. Allegations by EU ethanol producers, represented by the organization ePure, suggest that U.S. ethanol exports to Europe are taking advantage of the expiring volumetric ethanol excise tax credit, or VEETC, prior to export resulting in a lower price and harming EU ethanol producers.

RFAThe Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) responded to these allegations when the first complaint was filed. “In fact, the tax incentive is going away,” said RFA president Bob Dinneen. “That’s not going to be an issue any longer (after Dec. 31).”

Listen to Dinneen’s comments here: RFA CEO Bob Dinneen

The RFA is working with other industry groups to encourage all U.S. ethanol producers to cooperate with the EU investigations and will continue to monitor the status of these investigations to ensure the U.S. ethanol industry is not unjustly penalized.

RFA notes that domestic ethanol producers are not eligible for VEETC which is specifically for gasoline blenders, marketers, and other end users.

Solar Decathlon May Move

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is looking for a new location for Solar Decathlon 2013. DOE hopes to provide other communities with the opportunity to host the competition and share the economic and education and outreach benefits of the event.

Since 2002, the Solar Decathlon has been held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., where it has successfully showcased energy-efficient housing and clean energy technologies. For Solar Decathlon 2013, DOE is seeking a new venue. The event will promote the outreach, education, and economic benefits of energy security, renewable energy, and energy efficiency.

The winners of Solar Decathlon 2011 were announced last month with the University of Maryland getting first place honors for its WaterShed entry that proposes solutions to water and energy shortages. Purdue University took second place in the competition, and New Zealand (Victoria University of Wellington) received the third-place award. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.

Appalachian State University won the Decathlon 2011 People’s Choice Award for its Solar Homestead entry – a self-sustaining net zero-energy house inspired by the pioneer spirit of the early settlers to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Appalachian State also won second place in the Communications Contest and third place in the Architecture Contest.

The Solar Decathlon’s influence has expanded around the work in recent years, with international teams from Belgium, Canada, China, and New Zealand that bring different perspectives and add to the debate about how to design sustainable homes.

California Biodiesel Alliance to Hold Conference

The California Biodiesel Alliance has announced the agenda for the first annual statewide conference on Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel.

The conference will be held on January 16th, 2012 in downtown San Francisco as part of BBI International’s Pacific West Biomass Conference to be held January 16-18 at the Marriott Marquis. Topics on the agenda include panel discussions on California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, biodiesel feedstocks, federal and state regulations, fuel quality and new production technologies.

More information about the conference can be found on-line.

Ethanol Group Hosts Farm Bill Listening Session

ace fb sessionThe American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) hosted a Farm Bill listening session with Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) and area agricultural leaders last week at the ACE office in Sioux Falls.

“The farm bill plays a critical role in providing a safety net for America’s farmers and ranchers and has included important biofuel provisions in the past that we want to maintain,” said ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings.

In addition to Sen. Johnson and Jennings, participants who attended the event last Tuesday included Craig Schaunaman, USDA Farm Service Agency; Scott VanderWal, South Dakota Farm Bureau; Gary Duffy, South Dakota Corn Growers Association; Jeremy Freking, South Dakota Soybean Association; Kevin Kephart, South Dakota State University; Paul Brandt, South Dakota Pork Producers Council and Doug Sombke, South Dakota Farmers Union.

Biodiesel Production Sets New Record

According to the latest government figures, U.S. biodiesel production has already set a new record this year.

National Biodiesel Board (NBB) is proud to report that the industry has produced more than 802 million gallons of biodiesel in plants from Florida to Iowa to Washington state, more than doubling last year’s production of about 315 million gallons and breaking the previous record of about 690 million gallons set in 2009.

The main reason for the increased production is reinstatement of the federal tax incentive for biodiesel, which is once again due to expire at the end of this year without congressional action. Without the incentive last year, production dropped dramatically as dozens of plants shuttered and thousands of jobs were lost. This year’s increased production will support more than 31,000 jobs – up from fewer than 13,000 last year – while generating at least $3 billion in GDP and $628 million in federal, state and local tax revenues, according to a recent economic study conducted by Cardno-Entrix.

“This tax incentive is without a doubt stimulating production of biodiesel and creating jobs. We’re clearly seeing that from our members across the country,” said NBB VP of federal affairs Anne Steckel. “We have a little over a month before it could expire again, and it is past time that Congress step up and pass an extension to keep this industry’s momentum going.”

IRFA Announces Video Contest for Iowa High School Students

Lights, camera, cash prizes!

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) wants Iowa high school students to submit their best videos highlighting renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel.

The second annual “Fuel the Future” video contest is for students in grades 9-12 in public, private or home schools who can show how renewable fuels are important to local communities, Iowa and the nation.

The top three video entries will receive prizes in the amounts of $1,000, $600 and $400 respectively. Videos will be featured at the 2012 Iowa Renewable Fuel Summit on January 24 in Des Moines and will be posted on IRFA’s YouTube channel. Last year’s winners from Treynor High School submitted a hilarious and clever parody of an action movie trailer.

Download an entry form and get more information from the IRFA Fuel the Future site.

Airport BP Offering E85 in Virginia’s Tidewater Area

Attention travelers in the Tidewater, Va. area, the Airport BP is now offering E85 ethanol at its full-service auto repair center and convenience store located near Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport. Airport patrons picking up a flex-fuel rental vehicle or FFV drivers in the beautiful Tidewater area can now easily fill up with E85 at Airport BP.

By opening an E85 station with partner Protec Fuel, Airport BP is doing its part to help reduce emissions, lower our dependence on foreign oil and spur domestic economic growth.

Protec Fuel, based in Florida, has partnered with Airport BP to provide fuel for the company’s new greener burning fuel option and assist with its fuel launch. This makes Virginia’s ninth public E85 station. Protec contributed to four of these projects.

Scholarship Deadline Extended for Ethanol Conference

The Renewable Fuels Foundation and the Renewable Fuels Association are offering scholarships to six students in higher education to attend the 17th Annual National Ethanol Conference: Accelerating Industry Innovation. Interested students now have until December 23 to apply.

The NEC will be held Feb. 22 to 24 in Orlando, Fla., at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center. The NEC is the perfect opportunity for students interested in the world of renewable fuels to meet and connect with ethanol industry leaders, policymakers and experts in the field of renewable fuels. Find out more about the conference here.

Ethanol Not to Blame for Higher Turkey Prices

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), the retail cost of menu items for a classic Thanksgiving dinner including turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the basic trimmings increased about 13 percent this year. That’s still less than $50 to feed ten people – not even $5 per person.

fb thanksgivingThe turkey itself is what gobbled up most of the price increase this year. According to AFBF, a 16-pound turkey will cost about $21.57 this year at $1.35 per pound, an increase of about 25 cents per pound over last year. That triggered some misinformed columnists to start crying fowl and place the blame for the higher price on ethanol, as pointed out in a blog post from Growth Energy.

“Our biofuels policies are a big cause of the rising cost of food in recent years, and it just feels wrong to use food for fuel with so many families struggling to feed their families,” wrote Marie Brill of ActionAid in the Huffington Post, adding that “federal ethanol subsidies … are driving up the price of everything from eggs to milk to — yes, turkeys — and undoubtedly, some families will just have to go without.”

However, AFBF economist John Anderson says it’s more a case of basic economics – supply and demand. “Turkey prices are higher this year primarily due to strong consumer demand both here in the U.S. and globally,” said Anderson.

A more well-rounded and less emotional look at the cost of turkey comes from New York Times’ Wealth Matters columnist Paul Sullivan. “It turns out that turkey pricing is not much tied to commodities prices. Instead, other factors, like tight margins for farmers and perceptions of value, play a much bigger role,” he explains. “For most of us, the price we pay for our turkey bears little relation to what it costs to raise it.”

Read “Let’s Talk Turkey” from Growth Energy.