Farmers Union to power transition to homegrown renewable energy

By National Farmers Union | August 23, 2017

The transition to a homegrown, renewable energy future for America is underway. Biofuels, higher blends of ethanol in gasoline, and advanced, biobased technologies are reaping tremendous benefits for our environment and providing much-needed economic stability to America’s farming and rural communities. The U.S. must implement federal-level policies that encourage expanded markets for these energy sources and remove regulatory barriers that inhibit their growth.

To that end, National Farmers Union, in conjunction with state Farmers Union divisions, has begun an initiative to advance federal policies that support homegrown and home-produced renewable energy sources. NFU hired veteran energy, environment and agriculture policy specialist Anne Steckel to lead the effort.

“American family farmers and ranchers are facing a rapidly changing climate, a severely depressed farm economy, and deteriorating rural infrastructure and services,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “Expansion of homegrown, renewable energy production provides solutions to each of these issues and significant benefits for American consumers and the environment. Today, National Farmers Union expands upon its long history of advancing these new technologies.”

The Farmers Union initiative will promote legislative and regulatory solutions for expanding markets for higher blends of ethanol, like E30, and advanced biofuels.

“Federal-level policies like the Renewable Fuel Standard have reaped tremendous gains for the farming and rural communities that grow and produce renewable, bio-based fuels,” said Steckel. “NFU will continue its avid support of the RFS and pursue innovative policy solutions that expand renewable energy demand, development and infrastructure.”

The effort follows a special order of business that was passed by delegates to the NFU 115th Anniversary Convention in March.

“The modern biofuels industry has brought billions of dollars of capital investment, millions of dollars of new tax base, and many thousands of new good paying jobs with benefits to struggling rural communities,” said Steckel. “We need to be expanding our use of the renewable energy fuels that clean up our air, bolster rural economies, and save American consumers money at the pump,” she added.

Leaders in the biofuels and renewable fuels industry lent their support to the initiative, noting NFU’s long history advocating for clean, homegrown fuels.

“We are excited to see NFU elevating its advocacy for higher ethanol blends and promoting advanced cellulosic biofuel technologies,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “Encouraging legislative and regulatory pathways that increase the availability of high-octane fuels helps American farmers as well as automakers and consumers seeking better performing biofuel choices. These kinds of forward-thinking, clean energy options are made possible by the Renewable Fuel Standard – our nation’s most successful energy policy.”

“Expanding market access for ethanol will help rural communities prosper and enable American drivers to benefit from homegrown, low-cost, high-performance choices at the pump,” said Brian Jennings, executive vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol. “The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) welcomes the continued leadership of NFU as we all work to clear a pathway for widespread use of high-octane fuels in the future.”

“The National Farmers Union has long been an ardent and effective advocate for farmers and value-added agriculture,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “I am quite pleased that NFU is poised to expand its advocacy to focus more directly on the U.S. ethanol industry, both through higher level blends and increased advanced biofuels production. Ethanol is the cleanest, lowest cost, highest octane source of fuel on the planet and we want to ensure greater market access for higher level blends. Consumers win when there’s a choice at the pump and we welcome the National Farmers Union’s efforts to ensure greater market competition.”