A Republican candidate for Iowa Agriculture Secretary made a stop Friday in central Iowa to tout the benefits of ethanol. Mark Leonard, a northwest Iowa grain and livestock farmer and banker, is a strong proponent of ethanol and an investor in a local plant in Denison that makes the alcohol fuel. He runs a purebred cattle operation and sells breeding stock not only coast-to-coast, but to customers in five continents.

Leonard says having been involved in what’s necessary to deal in the international market scene, he understands what you have to deal with to move Iowa products, at a premium, outside our state borders. “This is not the same world we lived in eight years ago,” Leonard says. There are people on this earth who wish to destroy our country, our economy, he says — there are people who want to kill us. Unfortunately, some of those are the people we rely on the for the energy that keeps things going in this country.

Leonard says the U.S. has to relieve itself of the burden of its need for the petroleum products we buy from those hostile countries. Whether it’s air traffic, on the roads, or the rail system, he says we can move everything we need to move in this country with renewable energy. Leonard says Iowa has two natural resources nobody else has: Iowa land, and Iowans. He says we can lead the nation in economic growth, in environmental improvements and in energy production.

Leonard’s appearance at the Ankeny airport featured the owners and pilots of four homebuilt aircraft. The small “kit-built” airplanes all run on 100-percent ethanol, and after his speech the four took off and did some aerial “formation flying” to demonstrate the abilities of the Van’s RV-3a planes. A Denison auto dealer also presented Leonard’s campaign with an SUV to use, powered by high-ethanol E-85 fuel.