Today’s Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit is designed to be an information clearinghouse about which presidential candidates support the federal ethanol production mandate. Governor Terry Branstad is blunt. Branstad told reporters late this morning wants to see Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz “defeated” in Iowa because of his opposition to the Renewable Fuels Standard.

“Ted Cruz, who’s ahead in the polls, is diametrically opposed to what we really care about and that is growing the opportunity for renewable fuels in this country. Iowa leads the nation in ethanol, biodiesel and wind energy,” Branstad said. “He, by the way, is against the wind energy tax credit as well.”

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said if Iowa Caucus-goers choose Cruz, the ethanol mandate won’t survive.

“You will kill RFS and Iowa will have their fingerprints on the weapon,” Santorum said.

Organizers, led by Eric Branstad — the governor’s oldest son, say they have gotten 50,000 Iowans who are involved in the industry to commit to Caucus. Iowa Renewable Fuels Association executive director Monte Shaw was onstage early today to make the pitch.

“The fight to defend the RFS and to create market access for consumer choice starts in Iowa on February 1,” Shaw said. “We need each and every one of you to commit to doing that.”

Tom Brooks, the president of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, said 12 of the 14 candidates in both parties who are competing in the Caucuses support the RFS.

“Iowa is in a unique position to have its voice heard on energy policy, but it’s up to you whether Iowa will seize the opportunity or it passes us by,” Brooks said.

The other GOP candidate who opposes the Renewable Fuels Standard is Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. Three other Republican presidential candidates are scheduled to speak at the summit this afternoon.