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Making policy

By Staff | Mar 12, 2010

ANAHEIM, Calif. -Greenhouse gas emissions climate change indirect land use food safety and getting corn-based ethanol classified as an advanced biofuel are policies that Iowa brought to the table at last week’s Commodity Classic in California.

Jay Lynch, a Humboldt grain producer, was at the event as a voting delegate for the National Corn Growers Association. The policy conference “gives NCGA guidance for future lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C.,” Lynch explained.

Concerning greenhouse gases, Lynch said that the policy to be pursued is to get legislate emissions and than leaving it a regulatory group. “We think it’ll be better through legislation and get better benefits for our farmers.”

Concerning food safety he said an effort to track each bushel of corn from the field to the end user may have good intentions, but, he noted, it “just can’t be done with corn.” Thousands of bushels are commingled when being transported and it would be impossible to trace a problem grain back to its source.

The only alternative is to have a separate storage and hauling system for the grain from each field harvested and that would be cost prohibitive.

Concerning climate change the approved policies keeps NCGA work toward carbon offsets for farmers in the cap and trade bill. He said that producers could effectively capture carbon though manure digesters, reduced tillage methods, decreasing nitrogen use and other sustainable measures. He said

Concerning indirect land use, Lynch said, “I don’t buy into the argument that ethanol caused more rain forests to be taken out. Brazil was expanding (into rain forests) before ethanol took off.

“We feel it was an unfair disadvantage to blame ethanol for it.’

In addition, he said that when initial findings found that ethanol manufacturing was not as efficient and safe for the environment, when “what wasn’t factored in is that there are certain environmental problems with pumping and hauling crude oil.”

Concerning corn-based ethanol as an advanced biofuel Lynch acknowledged that the industry “has a lot of work to do. We have to get the indirect land use charged dropped. Once that charge is removed, (corn-based) ethanol would qualify as an advanced biofuel.”

Lynch, who operates a corn and soybean farm, said that as technology improves in the future, he thinks cellulosic ethanol, particularly from corn cobs, will be a viable venture. “Cobs are the last to break down and have the least nutrition,” Lynch said.

Lynch said once the voting work was done, he was looking forward to attending a marketing seminar and reviewing new products from seed companies that may work in his operation.

Contact Larry Kershner at (515) 573-2141, Ext. 453 or by e-mail at kersh@farm-news.com.

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