Leaders of the renewable fuels industry in Iowa express optimism about the next year, while also admitting there are some challenges ahead.

Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, Monte Shaw, spoke today at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit, and says 2016 saw record U.S. ethanol production, ethanol use and ethanol exports, along with record U.S.

biodiesel production and use. But Shaw says this year brings in a lot of new factors that could impact the industry.

“We’ve kind of gone from crazy and remarkable to crazy and uncharted…there’s unrest in the markets, in our politics and our polices, the margins have tightened up,” Shaw says. “And I really think as we look forward we better to tighten our seatbelts. I think the next year is going to be kind of a wild ride.” While 2017 has a lot of questions for the industry, Shaw says he believes Iowa will meet the challenges.

“I can tell you that the state of the Iowa Renewable Fuels industry is uncertain, but unrelenting. We are ready to go. We are ready to produce the fuels that U.S. and world consumers want and are demanding. They are cleaner, they’re cheaper, they’re better and we can do this,” Shaw says. One of the uncertainties is new President Donald Trump. Shaw says Trump’s policy is “America First” and that should be a good thing for ethanol.

“He traveled all throughout Iowa during that campaign and he saw pretty quickly that if you want jobs and if you want energy in rural America — that means renewable fuels, “Shaw says. “So his believe in renewable fuels and the renewable fuel standard is very sincere based on that education he got here in Iowa.” Eamonn Byrne, president of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association says Trump has so far show he is going to do what he said he would do during the campaign, and that bodes well for renewable fuels.

“He stood here on this podium and said he supported the renewable fuels standard and he said he supported agriculture,” Byrne says. “So our job over the next year — and this is going to be a tough year — is to hold him accountable to what he actually said.” Byrne is optimistic the new administration will be beneficial for renewable fuels.

“I believe we can work with this president to get to where we need to get to. There will be challenges, but where there’s challenges, there’s opportunity so long as we are ready for the challenge,” Byrne says. Byrne is also the CEO of Plymouth Energy in Merrill, Iowa. Both Shaw and Byrne say there is some concern about the cabinet members appointed by Trump and those cabinet members’ views on renewable fuels.