Politicians and farmers from Iowa were among those to testify Thursday before the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C. over the agency’s proposal to cut the amount of ethanol required to me mixed with fuel by 3-billion gallons. Mark Wigans, a livestock producer from Renwick, spoke with Radio Iowa from the capital after testifying. “I think it went well, I think we outnumbered our opponents probably by a 3 to 1 basis, so there was certainly a lot of support,” Hansen said.
Wigans says he tried to stress the economic impact of ethanol production that he says has helped keep unemployment in western Iowa low. “The fact that our construction companies, our movie theaters, hardware stores, everybody is experiencing better times than a lot of the rest of the country is — and it’s because we’ve learned how to use what we’ve grow in Iowa, in Iowa,” Wigans says.
He was not asked anything beyond the statement he gave EPA officials. Wigans says, “Most of us farmers they didn’t ask questions, they asked questions primarily to the policy wonks from the trade association.”
Mark Leonard raises cattle and is also a banker in Holstein. Leonard says those who testified did a good job of presenting the facts for ethanol. “It becomes pretty obvious that the real issue isn’t logic or facts, it’s an emotion-based opposition and primarily guided by politics. The people who are not reaping the benefits of having the renewable fuels facilities in their area are the ones who are upset,” according to Leonard.
Rick Hansen, a cattle feeder and crop farmer from Hinton says he also stressed the economic impact of the ethanol industry. “Our farmers are doing well, it’s definitely an advantage to the livestock feeder, and up and down main street it’s very important,” Hansen says. Hansen believes opponents believe the ethanol benefits only go to those who raise the corn. “I think they do, I think they think it’s just the Iowa corn grower that is getting the benefits,” Hansen says. “They forget about the people using the byproducts,and the people working in the plants and everything.”
Hansen believes supporters made a good case with the EPA, but he doesn’t know if it will change their minds. “We talked about that — was it a win or a loss — and I guess I’m not for sure, time will tell,” according to Hansen. “It sure looks to me like it was a no brainer, but that ain’t always the way it goes here.”
The three men were joined by representatives of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association in Washington for the testimony. Governor Terry Branstad also testified before the EPA, as did members of the Iowa Congressional delegation.