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Northey discusses ethanol’s future

By Staff | Sep 17, 2010

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill northey, left, discusses the future of biofuels in Iowa with Bob Poen, center, and Kevin Poen, both of Lake City, during a stop Monday at the Calhoun County Farm Bureau office.

Rockwell City – Questions about VeraSun’s recent attempts to recover payments made to farmers led to a broader discussion about the future of the biofuels industry in Iowa when local farmers met Monday with Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey during a town hall meeting at the Calhoun County Farm Bureau office.

“I’m concerned about the ethanol and biodiesel industries in Iowa, because I’d hate to lose the infrastructure that people have built up to invest in their communities and help renew rural Iowa,” said Kevin Poen, who raises crops and cattle in the Lake City area.

Northey visited Calhoun County on Sept. 13 as part of his effort to visit each of Iowa’s 99 counties in 2010 to meet with Iowans and discuss agriculture and the issues facing farmers in the state.

Northey, a corn and soybean farmer from Spirit Lake, agreed that the state needs to continue to promote Iowa’s biofuels industry, including ethanol.

“While Iowa hasn’t given plant incentives for a long time, we need to continue to give some type of support to the industry, or we’ll potentially hurt demand for corn.”

Northey, whose priorities as Secretary of Agriculture including renewable energy, conservation, stewardship and telling the story of Iowa agriculture, noted that ethanol coming out of the plant is currently $1.70 per gallon before the tax credit.

“That’s less than the price of wholesale gasoline, and it shows that the industry is becoming more efficient.”

There’s also a lot of interest in new technology that’s being developing for ethanol plants, added Northey, but people are unwilling to invest in these advancements, due to the uncertainly surrounding the future of the ethanol industry.

“That’s why it makes sense to have some kind of five-year plan for the ethanol industry. If we just yank the rug out from under the ethanol industry, we’ll lose potential inventors, not only in ethanol, but in other biofuels opportunities, whether these involve cornstalks, grasses or other sources.”

Contact Darcy Dougherty Maulsby at yettergirl@yahoo.com.

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