Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) brought the Senate Agriculture Committee to the heartland Monday to get to the heart of the food vs. fuel debate. The hearing was the culmination of a statewide energy tour Nelson kicked off last week that also included stops at an E85 fuel station in Omaha and an ethanol plant in Hastings.
During the hearing held at University of Nebraska-Omaha, Nelson commented that ethanol has been “been blamed for practically every problem under the sun. What’s next? Summer colds? Computer viruses? Bad hair days?”
Witnesses at the hearing came from both sides of the ethanol debate, including poultry and livestock producers who argued that ethanol production was driving up their feed costs.
Tim Recker, president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, testified on behalf of his organization as well as the National Corn Growers Association, the Nebraska Corn Growers Association and the Nebraska Corn Board. “The world is hungry for both protein and petroleum, and the American corn grower can help satisfy both in the form of energy from ethanol and protein from corn-fed red meat and poultry,” Recker said.
Jim Jenkins, chairman of the Nebraska Ethanol Board, also testified at the hearing. “Ethanol, in addition to the rapidly growing wind industry, offers our nation a significant opportunity to begin the important diversification our energy portfolio away from fossil fuels,” Jenkins said.
Other witnesses included Dean Oestreich, Chairman of Pioneer Hi-Bred and Vice-President DuPont Agriculture and Nutrition; Dr. Thomas Foust, Biofuels Technology Manager with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory; and Jeff Lautt, Executive Vice President of Corporate Relations with POET.