A Flawed Concept

Corn meal, Ethanol plant

Agriculture has been an unsung hero of the American economy for generations — an industry that is rooted in America’s very existence, going back to the Founding Fathers, many of whom were growers themselves. Farming built this country, and today quietly adds billions of dollars a year to the national economy.

At Growth Energy, a coalition of U.S. ethanol supporters founded last November, we see agriculture as our natural partner. Renewable fuels are a valuable market for growers, with potential for growth. And we see the productivity of U.S. growers as the key to making our nation more energy independent — and revitalizing our rural communities.

But agriculture and renewable fuels have many opponents. Both ethanol and agriculture were the targets of a multimillion-dollar smear campaign in the “food vs. fuel” debate. Big oil companies want to sell fuel and fertilizer to the grower, but don’t want the grower to grow crops for fuel. Some misinformed people on the coasts don’t understand the potential of biofuels like ethanol and would oppose an increase in the amount of ethanol blended with gasoline.

But nowhere do we have a more potent threat to U.S. farming than with the concept of “international indirect land use (ILUC)” change. If you aren’t familiar with this concept, the flawed theory is that any acre of cropland diverted to fuel in the U.S. forces a grower overseas to plow under a rain forest to plant their own crops. That doesn’t make any sense on its face. But worse, our industry’s opponents want to assess additional “carbon penalties” against biofuels producers and growers calculated on the ILUC theory. The provision to assess ILUC penalties against renewable fuels makers was slipped into the 2007 Energy Act, and has been considered by EPA as a part of the newly-amended Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).

Meeting Low-Carbon Standards

The additional carbon penalties under ILUC would prevent low-carbon ethanol from meeting low-carbon fuel standards. This has enormous implications for agriculture because it would block demand for ethanol and strangle the market for corn and other ethanol feedstock.

Growth Energy is firmly opposed to assessing growers and ethanol producers an ILUC penalty. Why should an Iowa corn grower or an Illinois soybean grower be forced to make planting decisions based on the moves of foreign growers or the farm policies of other nations? This puts our nation’s agriculture economy and our renewable fuels industry at grave risk.

What ILUC really attempts to do is shift the responsibility for emitting pollution away from the polluter. ILUC’s position is that he U.S. grower should be held to account for the actions of a polluter half a world away.

Growth Energy is committed to finding a legislative solution to ILUC. Our association is working with key allies on Capitol Hill to introduce new legislation that would end any chance of seeing ILUC become law. Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, amended the House Climate Change bill this spring so it would include language postponing any ILUC penalties until the completion of a thorough study by the National Academy of Sciences.

Our association welcomes the opportunity to debate this issue in the U.S. Senate, where we are working to see legislation introduced that mirrors the House bill. Recently, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) filed a bill that would have blocked EPA from using any appropriated funds to calculate ILUC penalties against U.S. biofuels producers — and won an important admission from EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, conceding uncertainties about the science behind ILUC.

More Uncertainties

In fact, there are great uncertainties and outright flaws in the concept of ILUC. Growth Energy included many of these in the technical and economic modeling data our group filed as part of our comments to EPA on RFS2 and with the California Air Resources Board, the two major regulatory arenas in which we have fought ILUC.

First, the argument that we don’t have enough crop yields to meet both food and fuel needs is false. Average yield for corn is expected to double by 2030 — possibly as much as 300 bushels of corn from one acre. That is more than enough grain to meet our demand for renewable fuels as well as provide the food necessary without plowing one additional acre of land in the U.S. This year, corn growers are expected to produce the same amount of corn as two years ago on 5 million fewer acres.

Second, the architects behind ILUC neglect to mention the fact that most of the arable land planted in the U.S. goes to produce animal feed, not food for humans. About 6% of the arable land in the U.S. is needed to produce food directly for human consumption, whereas about 90% goes to produce livestock feed. Therefore, the claim that growing some U.S. grain for fuel instead of food is leaving others hungry and forcing new land into production in other countries is unfounded.

Third, a July analysis by Dr. Robert Brown, director of the Bioeconomy Institute at Iowa State University, examined soybean and corn prices on the Index Mundi and data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. He found no correlation between Brazilian deforestation and the price of either soybeans or corn.

Most bizarre in the thinking of those behind ILUC is the idea that only biofuel producers — and by extension the growers who look to renewable fuels as a market — are to be assessed with the ILUC penalties, not the polluters and fossil fuel producers. This makes no sense. This essentially says that biofuel production is not a sustainable practice, but converting land to new housing or cutting down the rain forest to harvest timber or plant tobacco (practices that are directly threatening the Amazonian rain forest) are somehow sustainable practices.

Getting Involved

This is a serious debate. American agriculture would be making a serious mistake to not fight ILUC with every ounce of strength it has. If ILUC becomes reality, it would mean an end to the U.S. renewable fuels industry, devastating a crucial and growing market.

Growth Energy looks forward to working with any individual or group that shares the vision of an America that is more energy independent. We want to reduce our dependence on foreign oil by increasing our use of domestic, renewable fuels such as ethanol. Doing so would revitalize rural communities, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and reinforce America’s economic and national security.

In my lifetime, I have never seen another opportunity for rural America like I see in renewable fuels. The opportunity to make America more energy independent by growing our fuel is not only a potential economic boon for farming, but it is the right thing to do for our country’s future.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Crop Inputs Stories
Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScience
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More
MicronutrientsMicronutrients Going Macro
September 9, 2014
Between 2014’s fantastic growing conditions and a heightened awareness on plant nutrition, the major players in micronutrients are gearing up for another big year. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
FungicidesSudden Death Syndrome, Brown Stem Rot Reported In Indiana Soybeans
September 3, 2014
Farmers and retailers should be watching for symptoms of these two diseases over the next few weeks as they are best managed through preventative methods. Read More
Top 100 Articles
Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
CropLife 100Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
March 3, 2015
Two CropLife 100 retailers — South Dakota Wheat Growers (ranked No. 11) and North Central Farmers Elevator (No. 19) — have entered into a Letter of Intent to unify the two companies into a newly named cooperative. Read More
Growmark Group
CropLife 100GROWMARK In 2015: Back, To The Future
March 2, 2015
The nation’s third largest ag retail organization is simultaneously moving forward while remembering its past. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Expands Sanders Brand In The South
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle has acquired Hopkins Seed and Chemical in Qulin, MO, which expands the company's Sanders brand to nine Southern states. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches New Providence Agriculture Location In Indiana
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings — ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100 — has established a new retail location in New Castle, IN, which will operate as part of Pinnacle's Providence Agriculture brand. Read More
CropLife 100Cooperative CHS Returns $518 Million To Owners
February 23, 2015
The 2015 cash return to owners is based on CHS net income of $1.1 billion, the company's second highest on record. Read More
corn field
CropLife 100The Andersons’ Humic DG Now Available In Canada
February 13, 2015
The Andersons, Inc. Turf & Specialty Group has announced its Humic DG product is now available to customers in the Canadian turf, agriculture and horticulture markets. Read More
Latest News
RR2X soybeans surround untreated check (center)
Industry NewsArysta Hires New Midwest Territory Sales Manager
March 5, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently named Jonathan “Jon” Tone as the Territory Sales Manager in the Midwest sales region. Read More
Fertilizer360 Yield Center: Try These 5 Steps To Fine Tune Nitrog…
March 5, 2015
Yield Center 360 advises that an effective nitrogen management plan needs to focus on how much N a particular field and corn crop needs, as well as how to properly manage N throughout the growing season — with adjustments along the way. Read More
Precision AgFarmobile Coming Online In 2015
March 5, 2015
A new startup is looking to make collecting and selling ag data a more rewarding proposition for growers. Read More
Crop InputsCommodity Classic 2015 Sets Attendance High Mark
March 4, 2015
With nearly 8,000 total attendees, the 2015 Commodity Classic convention and trade show, which took place last week in Phoenix, AZ, shattered previous records for the landmark event, Read More
Young corn plants
FertilizerNew Nitrogen Stabilizer From Simplot Protects Fertilize…
March 4, 2015
By using OmniPierce Technology, Eclipse-N from Simplot Grower Solutions coats and protects more nitrogen, increasing nitrogen efficiency and decreasing loss due to volatilization. Read More
Industry NewsOhio Corn And Wheat Growers Association, Ohio Soybean A…
March 4, 2015
The associations truly appreciate the comprehensive approach and diligent work that the Ohio House of Representatives has dedicated to addressing water quality and House Bill 61. Read More
Mahindra Implement
Industry NewsMahindra USA Aligns With Paladin Attachment For Impleme…
March 4, 2015
Mahindra USA will begin utilizing Paladin Attachments as its implement supplier in April 2015. Read More
Crop InputsValent BioSciences Acquires Mycorrhizal Applications
March 4, 2015
The acquisition adds another strategic platform to VBC’s rapidly expanding global biorational business, providing additional tools for the Biorational Window platform being developed with its parent, Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd. Read More
Nutrients for Life Foundation - Plant Nutrient on the Farm Station
Industry NewsNutrients For Life Foundation Launches New Station Prog…
March 4, 2015
This ready-to-implement station provides an interactive opportunity for farms to showcase crop nutrients’ important role in growing healthy crops. Read More
Adjuvants loading
AdjuvantsAdjuvants Continue Upward Trend
March 4, 2015
A dizzying array of developments in crop protection technologies promise to make specialty adjuvants a crucial piece of the puzzle going forward. Read More
Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
CropLife 100Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Me…
March 3, 2015
Two CropLife 100 retailers — South Dakota Wheat Growers (ranked No. 11) and North Central Farmers Elevator (No. 19) — have entered into a Letter of Intent to unify the two companies into a newly named cooperative. Read More
10 Tips for Spring Planter Preparation
Equipment10 Tips For Spring Planter Preparation
March 3, 2015
Kinze Manufacturing offers advice on how to ensure your planter is ready before you hit the field. Read More
Industry NewsOABA 2015 LAUNCH Program Recognizes 20 New Graduates
March 3, 2015
Twenty Ohio agribusiness leaders are being recognized as the latest graduates of Ohio AgriBusiness Association’s LAUNCH program. Read More
EquipmentNew AGCO Website Helps Customers Shop For Certified Pre…
March 3, 2015
RoGator sprayers are among the wide range of CPO equipment available through AGCO's site. Read More
Enlist spray Demo
HerbicidesGuiding New Herbicide Systems’ Launches
March 3, 2015
Under careful watch, the new 2,4-D- and dicamba-tolerant crops hit more acres this season. Read More
Eric SfiligojCommodity Classic 2015: Playing The Waiting Game
March 2, 2015
There was plenty of future-talk at this year’s event as companies (and growers) are largely in a holding pattern of sorts. Read More
Industry NewsHighway Equipment Appoints New Director Of Business Dev…
March 2, 2015
Cory Venable, who joined Highway Equipment Company (HECO) in 2013 as OEM Account Manager, has been promoted to Director of Business Development. Read More
Prairieland FS employees
Eric SfiligojWorkforce Worries
March 2, 2015
Finding good employees almost always ranks as the No. 1 or No. 2 problem for ag retailers in our annual CropLife 100 survey. Read More