RFA marks 4 decades of industry leadership

By Renewable Fuels Association | December 23, 2020

Forty years ago this month, a small group of innovative farmers and like-minded business leaders came together to officially found the Renewable Fuels Association. The overarching goal of the new trade group was as admirable as it was ambitious: grow production and demand for ethanol, a relatively unknown renewable fuel that was cleaner-burning, homegrown, and environmentally friendly.

Four decades later, the U.S. ethanol industry has grown into a thriving and dynamic renewable energy powerhouse, and RFA continues to build upon the vision, leadership, and ingenuity of its founders.

Through various publications and activities, RFA will celebrate its 40th anniversary all year long in 2021. The association will look back on the milestones of an industry that grew from just a handful of small plants in a few Corn Belt states to more than 200 sophisticated, high-tech biorefineries nationwide. Today’s ethanol industry supports almost 350,000 jobs and contributes more than $40 billion to the nation’s economy each year, a far cry from its humble beginnings.

“It’s no mistake that RFA has been nicknamed ‘the voice of the ethanol industry.’ In many ways, the story of RFA is the story of the ethanol industry itself,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “For 40 years, RFA has provided the strategy, expertise, and guidance needed to grow the market for cleaner, greener renewable fuels, and we’ve taken the dreams of our founders and made them into a reality. In 2021, we look forward to celebrating four decades of unrivaled leadership and loyal service to our nation’s ethanol producers and the farmers who helped build this industry from the ground up.”

“It’s a pleasure and privilege to lead an organization that is, itself, a respected leader in the ag and energy fields, as well as among policymakers in Washington,” said RFA Chairperson Jeanne McCaherty, CEO of Guardian Energy in Minnesota. “With experience and a reputation honed over four decades of service, RFA continues to lead the way and guide the industry through these uncertain and unsettling times. I am proud of our members and staff for their exemplary dedication and look forward to celebrating this important milestone with them.”

The year-long anniversary celebration will provide an important history lesson on renewable fuels and the Renewable Fuels Association, with articles and digital media spotlighting the evolution of the industry and the essential role renewable fuels play in our everyday lives. Since 1980, when RFA got its start, U.S. ethanol production has grown nearly 16,000 percent, from about 100 million gallons to the record high of 16.1 billion in 2018. Over the course of those years, RFA has been the key to the industry’s success. Whether it is achieving groundbreaking legislative victories, providing crucial technical and scientific expertise, educating consumers, or serving as a trusted resource for media, the RFA has truly been ‘the voice of the industry’ for 40 years—and will continue to perform that crucial service for decades to come.