Ag’s Angst: GOP Changes Ethanol View

For the agriculture industry, the biggest news coming out of last week’s Republican Convention was the new party line on ethanol. Or should we say, against ethanol?

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The Republican Party delegates voted to reverse the party’s position on the renewable fuels standard, likely a move to distance the presidential nominee, John McCain, from President George W. Bush. Bush has backed ethanol mandates and incentives; McCain has not.

Ag organizations such as the Renewable Fuels Association, the Minnesota Corn Growers, the National Corn Growers Association, the American Farm Bureau Federation, and the National Farmers Union have expressed disappointment in the position.

Chris Clayton, DTN staff reporter, noted in his Sept. 5 editorial that Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman went on record disagreeing with McCain on ethanol.

“Heineman’s comments are somewhat interesting because earlier in the week Roll Call, a Washington DC publication, had tabbed Heineman as one of McCain’s potential picks as Secretary of Agriculture,” wrote Clayton. “Heineman said ethanol is a key part of reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. Nebraska ranks second nationally in ethanol production behind only Iowa.”

Clayton also stated that “this reversal happened in Minnesota, the first state to have an E-10 mandate.”

Jerry Hagstron, DTN political correspondent, noted in his Sept. 4 editorial that the reversal could affect Midwestern voting habits. "McCain is almost certainly leading Democratic nominee Barack Obama in the nation’s rural areas,” Hagstrom wrote. “Republican presidential candidates have won the majority of rural votes for decades, but Democratic candidates most often win when rural enthusiasm is low and the Republican winning percentage goes down in the rural areas of swing states, particularly Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Iowa. This year other rural states could also be in play. That’s how Bill Clinton captured the presidency in 1992 and 1996."

For more on the DTN articles, visit www.dtnethanolcenter.com.