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Northwest Iowa Dairy Outlooks

A local discussion of current science and issues concerning dairying in northwest iowa

One of agriculture’s greatest nemesis, U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, has introduced an amendment to the pending energy bill that would pave the way for an expansion of the U.S. biofuels market by increasing the percentage of U.S. vehicles that can run on flexible fuels, boost the number of blender pumps at refueling stations and authorize loan guarantees for renewable fuel pipelines.

Specifically, the amendment would require 50 percent of vehicles manufactured for sale in the United States to be flex-fuel capable by 2013 and 90 percent by 2015; require major fuel distributors to have at least one blender pump at half of their stations by 2019;and authorizes grants of up to 50 percent of project costs for the installation of retail ethanol blend infrastructure including blender pumps, tanks and other equipment as well as loan guarantees covering 80 percent of project costs for renewable fuel pipelines.

Now if you’re a corn grower this sounds great, more demand for your commodity, but if you feed livestock or grow any other crop, bend over again. U.S. consumers will pay big time for this hand-out to Harkin’s corn lobby buddies.

It seems that Harkin has consistently supported actions that divide Ag producers and pit them against each other. It’s time for the ethanol industry to stand on its own merits. If consumers want more flex-fuel vehicles, the market will provide them without this legislation.

It would make much more sense to fund basic research in oil seeds for bio-diesel or cellulose based ethanol production and let producers meet the needs of a consumer driven economy.

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