Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Senators Discuss Food and Fuel in Nebraska

United States Senate AgricultureU.S. Senators Ben Nelson (NE) and Tom Harkin (IA) brought the Senate Agriculture Committee to the University of Nebraska, Omaha to get to the heart of the food vs. fuel debate this week.

The hearing titled, "Food, Feed, and Fuel Production: Today and Tomorrow" was hosted by the university and included experts in agriculture, agricultural economics, food production, livestock production and renewable energy.

Witnesses at the hearing came from both sides of the ethanol debate, including poultry and livestock producers who argued that ethanol production was driving up their feed costs.

But Senator Nelson's comments may have been the best summary of the "food and fuel" issue:
"The focus here should be on the big picture: ethanol is the only domestically-produced alternative to oil-based transportation fuels. It is helping us in a big way to stretch the gasoline supply, save American consumers money at the pump, create jobs in rural communities, improve our rural and national economy—and to top it off—help wean us off imported oil.

"Ethanol is a major contributor to the U.S. gasoline supply. One study says it's the third largest, behind only Canada and Saudi Arabia, and ahead of Iraq and other OPEC countries. Today’s corn-based ethanol is paving the way for the next generation of biofuels produced from such materials as switchgrass and stover.
Tim Recker, president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, testified (pdf) on behalf of his organization as well as the National Corn Growers Association, the Nebraska Corn Growers Association and the Nebraska Corn Board.
“The world is hungry for both protein and petroleum, and the American corn grower can help satisfy both in the form of energy from ethanol and protein from corn-fed red meat and poultry.”
Other witnesses included Dr. Bruce Babcock, Director, Center for Agriculture and Rural Development, Iowa State University; Dean Oestreich, Chairman of Pioneer Hi-Bred and Vice-President DuPont Agriculture and Nutrition; Dr. Thomas Foust, Biofuels Technology Manager with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory; and Jeff Lautt, Executive Vice President of Corporate Relations with POET.

Source: Senator Ben Nelson, Senate Agriculture Committee

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