Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that the ethanol industry plays a critical role in the success and ultimate survival of rural America, adding that it is already increasing farm income by $30 billion, supporting more than 380,000 jobs, and providing consumers savings of between $.25 per gallon and as much as $1.39 per gallon at the fuel pump. Vilsack spoke at Renewable Fuels Association’s National Ethanol Conference this week.
Secretary Vilsack also made the following points:
- Ethanol is having a significant impact on lowering foreign oil dependence, which is a matter of both national and economic security.
- The biofuels industry has created innovations, such as co-products like dried distillers grains and by-products such as plant-based plastic bottles.
- The biofuels industry continues to be challenged by perpetual false debates, such as the food vs. fuel argument. America has more than enough corn for domestic use, export and fuel, Vilsack said.
The ethanol industry will continue to be challenged by opponents in the courts, as well as by international trade barriers, Vilsack said. He added that there are also some in the halls of Congress who argue that the Renewable Fuel Standard has outlived its purpose. But the biofuels industry is facing these attacks precisely because it is winning and because opponents are feeling the impact of expanded consumer choice and demand.
“You’ve got to keep pushing on. You’ve got to keep fighting,” Vilsack said. “It’s too important not to. Rural America’s survival is at stake.”
Agriculture talks a lot to itself, but needs to talk to a broader audience, Vilsack said. He pointed out that one way to expand its reach is to reach out to environmental groups that understand the environmental benefits of biofuels and enlist them to advocate on the industry’s behalf.
Vilsack encouraged the biofuels industry to use its clout as job creators with their local Chambers of Commerce, economic development groups and local and state governments. The secretary also encouraged industry suppliers to tell their elected officials how important it is to support the biofuels industry.
Finally, Secretary Vilsack said that proactive advertisements, such as the “so God made a farmer” commercial that Ram Truck ran during the Super Bowl, will let the American public know about the biofuel industry’s greatness and the significance of what it is doing.