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Broin: It’s farmers vs. big oil

By Staff | Jan 23, 2016

Janelle Kracht, of Coon Rapids, poses for a photo with Chris Soules, who appeared on the ABC show The Bachelor, during an event Thursday night to encourage local residents to participate in the upcoming Iowa Caucus.

FORT DODGE – Iowa’s farmers may not realize it, but they are at war with the oil industry, in the opinion of a renewable fuels executive.

The battle is over America’s energy market, Jeff Broin, the chairman and chief executive officer of Poet Biorefining, said Jan. 14 in Fort Dodge.

“We are going to win that war on caucus night,” he told about 75 people gathered at a rally intended to urge people to support presidential candidates of either major party who are in favor of the Renewable Fuel Standard.

The event at Olde Boston’s Restaurant and Pub, 809 Central Ave., was called “Let’s get raucus at the caucus, uphold the RFS.” It was sponsored by America’s Renewable Future, a group that encourages support for the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Often called the RFS, that federal rule requires a certain percentage of ethanol to be used nationally.

A local version of the State Fair Corn Poll was taken at the event. Donald Trump was leading by at least 10 kernels.

Chris Soules, an Iowa farmer who gained national fame by appearing on the ABC reality show “The Bachelor” last year, was a featured speaker at the event.

“I’ve seen first-hand what renewable fuels have done for my family operation,” Soules said.

“For me, it’s important to be able to use this platform that I’ve kind of fallen in to speak up for our industry,” he added.

Gov. Terry Branstad was to be another featured speaker at event. However, a mechanical problem with a plane prevented him from flying from Council Bluffs to Fort Dodge Thursday night.

Broin’s company has ethanol plants near Gowrie and Emmetsburg. The plant near Emmetsburg makes ethanol from corn stover instead of corn kernels.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump visited the plant near Gowrie on Nov. 12 and declared his support for ethanol.

In an interview before Thursday night’s rally, Broin said five presidential candidates have visited his company’s plants and all of them said they support the use of ethanol.

Even with the recent drop in oil prices, ethanol remains cheaper than oil, according to Broin.

“We’re better, we’re cheaper and we’re cleaner,” he said.

“Agriculture has enormous potential to replace large amounts of petroleum and chemicals made from petroleum with products that are friendly to the Earth,” he added.

Broin said fuel and chemicals can be made from corn starch and biomass while still leaving protein, corn oil and micro-nutrients for food and animal feed.

During his remarks to the crowd, Broin said that thanks to growing yields and more land being placed into cultivation there will be “plenty of grain” on the planet.

“We need to turn it into energy,” he said.

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