Vilsack: ethanol industry has positive, winning story to tell

By Renewable Fuels Association | February 07, 2013

Addressing a crowd of 1,100 ethanol industry participants at the Renewable Fuels Association’s 18th annual National Ethanol Conference, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack spoke articulately and passionately of the importance of America’s ethanol producers in helping to strengthen this country’s economic and national security.

Key themes of the secretary’s speech were:

- The importance of rural America is not fully appreciated. Rural America is making America stronger. We are a food secure nation, with clean water and plentiful fuel and energy resources. The men and women of rural America also strengthen this nation through military service. Rural America is an important place that deserves more attention.

- The ethanol industry plays a critical role in the success of rural America. The renewable fuels industry is increasing farm income and exports, supporting over 380,000 quality jobs, and providing fuel choice and cost savings to consumers.

- The impact ethanol is having in lowering foreign oil dependence is of vital importance. It is a matter of national and economic security.

- The biofuels industry is to be lauded for its entrepreneurship and innovation. Co-products like dried distillers grains and by-products like plant-based plastics are just two examples. The ethanol industry can be and is an engine for small business development in rural America and elsewhere.

- Many challenges exist, fueled by doubters and detractors who put forth myths and doubts that need to be addressed. Food versus fuel is not true. America has more than enough corn for domestic use, exporting, and fuel. Doubts about environmental issues should be answered by science proving that ethanol improves air quality. Tests of the industry will continue in the courts, overseas, and in the halls of Congress. Why? Because the ethanol industry is winning. It is making a difference for the better. Keep fighting. Keep fighting because it is important to the survival of rural America.

- The ethanol industry and its many supporters must tell their positive story of success loudly, clearly, and often. New allies and strategic relationships should be built and a new generation of young supporters with their inherent social media savviness should be recruited to amplify the message.

- The biofuels industry is important. It is on the leading edge of rural revitalization. It has great capacity to improve the economy, empowering people to work hard and seek more opportunities for a better life.

At the conclusion of the Secretary’s remarks, RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen thanked Secretary Vilsack for his unwavering support of the American ethanol industry and rural America. “There is perhaps no more eloquent and credible champion for American biofuels than Secretary Vilsack. We are grateful that he has agreed to serve a second term as Secretary of Agriculture. His continued leadership is a poignant reminder of President Obama’s commitment to our industry. After listening to the Secretary’s remarks, we leave this conference a more motivated and dedicated industry. We will fight to protect and promote the renewable fuel standard. We will diversify and open new markets, and we will continue to create and sustain quality jobs for our fellow Americans. As the Secretary reminded us, ethanol has an important role to play in increasing America’s energy independence, strengthening our economy, and protecting our environment.”