Ag Secretary at National Ethanol Conference

Cindy Zimmerman

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack expressed his personal strong support and gratitude for the ethanol industry during an address at the National Ethanol Conference on Friday.

“We owe ethanol producers in this country a debt of gratitude because we’re paying less at the pump because of what you do,” Vilsack said, noting that prices are about $1 less than they would be without ethanol.

Vilsack also thanked ethanol producers for providing jobs, contributing to a record trade surplus in agriculture and helping to increase net farm income. “In 2011, net farm income for the first time exceeded $100 billion,” he said. “Even adjusted for inflation, this is the best farm economy we’ve seen in four decades and one of the principal reasons is because you all have figured out this new value-added opportunity called renewable fuels.”

Vilsack said he was pleased with the action taken by EPA to allow registration of E15. “If we’re worried about the Straits of Hormuz, if we’re worried about Iran, one way we can be less stressed about this is getting E15 in the tanks of cars across this country,” he said.

E15 is important to Secretary Vilsack, but so is maintaining the Renewable Fuel Standard. “Make no mistake about this. Just because it’s in the law doesn’t mean it will always be in the law.” Vilsack says the success of the ethanol industry has gotten the attention of the oil industry which is trying to modify or eliminate the RFS. “We need to make sure we maintain the Renewable Fuel Standard. It is important to the security of this country that we move toward that 36 billion gallon mark.”

Listen to or download Vilsack’s speech here: Secretary Tom Vilsack at 2012 National Ethanol Conference

I also did a very quick interview with the Secretary, asking his outlook for the ethanol industry and the importance of maintaining the RFS. Listen to or download that interview here: Secretary Tom Vilsack interview

You can watch Secretary Vilsack’s speech here:

2012 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

Audio, Ethanol, Ethanol News, National Ethanol Conference, RFA, USDA