Letter: Renewable Fuel Standard protects national securityAs a soybean, corn and cattle farmer who appreciates the demand for my crops in both domestic and international markets, I want to be given the chance to prove that American farmers can produce a renewable, sustainable fuel right here at home.
By: Matt Widboom, President, Nobles County Corn and Soybean Growers, Worthington, Worthington Daily Globe
As a soybean, corn and cattle farmer who appreciates the demand for my crops in both domestic and international markets, I want to be given the chance to prove that American farmers can produce a renewable, sustainable fuel right here at home.
The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) protects our national security and helps guard against oil market volatility. It also supports jobs at a time when our nation needs to put more people to work. In fact, the production of 1 billion gallons of renewable fuel supports nearly 40,000 jobs across the country. The impact of waiving of the RFS goes way beyond just the nation’s ethanol industry. The areas soybean processing and Biodiesel plants would also be dramatically affected.
I have heard the concerns that upholding the RFS mandate would put a strain on our renewable resources and increase global food prices as well as livestock feed prices, but we are at a crossroads as a nation to support growth in renewable energy programs here, rather than relying on oil from the Middle East. U.S. Biodiesel has a very small impact on food costs. In the past year, food prices have risen 5.1 percent. Only an estimated 0.2-0.6 percent of that total increase has been contributed to biofuels production, according to the USDA. During the processing for biodiesel, about 18 percent of a bushel of soy is extracted to create the natural oil used in biodiesel. The remaining 80 percent is left to make protein rich soybean meal. As a result, when demand is increased for soybean oil for use in biodiesel, the supply of soybean meal available for livestock feed is actually increased.
Farmers are resourceful, and have found a way to sustainably feed the world and provide renewable fuel for our nation. In fact, not only does each farmer produce enough food to feed 155 people, but the U.S. biodiesel industry reached a key milestone by producing more than 1 billion gallons of fuel in 2011. We are proving it can be done.
The RFS was designed to give biofuel production a chance, and eliminating it now is giving up. Innovation doesn’t come easy, and we’ve found a way to produce both food and fuel sustainably, and I don’t see that changing.