Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad
We are governors from neighboring states and different political parties. We don't agree on everything, but we stand united in our belief that our nation needs a robust Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and together in our opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to weaken the RFS.
Since Congress enacted the RFS in 2005 by huge bipartisan margins, it has provided the secure policy foundation that rural America needs to continue investments in renewable fuels. Those investments yield excellent returns. They diversify our nation's energy portfolio, clean the air, grow opportunities for businesses, create good paying jobs in rural America, add value to farm products, and give consumers lower-cost choices at the pump.
Big Oil dislikes renewable fuels, and has used its clout in Washington D.C. and at state capitals to thwart their progress. When Minnesota became the first state to require all gasoline sold to contain at least 10 percent ethanol (E10), Big Oil predicted fearsome disasters. They warned that ethanol would clog cars' carburetors and explode their engines, disrupt supply lines causing gasoline shortages, and increase the price at the pump for consumers. None of that happened.
The petroleum industry also claimed that the RFS causes higher fuel prices. In fact, the opposite has proven true. On February 4, 2014, regular gasoline in Cresco, Iowa, a town about 15 minutes from the Iowa-Minnesota border, was selling for $3.44 per gallon. E10 was selling at $3.13 per gallon. E85 fuel, which is 85 percent ethanol, was selling for $2.60 per gallon at the same station - 84 cents per gallon cheaper than regular gasoline.
A recent study at Iowa State University found that, "Feasible increases in the ethanol mandate in 2014 will cause a small decline in the price of E10. Our results should reassure those in Congress and the Administration who are worried that following the RFS commitment to expanding the use of renewable fuels will result in sharply higher fuel prices for consumers."
The Environmental Protection Agency previously estimated that by 2022, renewable fuels would replace 13.6 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel consumption and save motorists nearly $12 billion each year. The EPA also predicted that this displacement of gasoline and diesel would reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 138 million metric tons, equivalent to removing 27 million vehicles from our nation's highways. Ethanol can increase competition and save consumers money, provide real choice at the pump, and drive innovations and efficiencies that are good for the economy.
The Governor was joined by Minnesota Turkey Growers Association President John Zimmerman, Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson, and Colleen Moriarty of Hunger Solutions Minnesota for the occasion. The event marks a time-honored tradition, going back more than two decades, of Minnesota’s Governor kicking off Thanksgiving week in Minnesota.
At the event, Zimmerman announced the donation of approximately 10,000 pounds of turkey to Hunger Solutions Minnesota, which will be distributed to food shelves and food banks across the state. That amount of turkey will feed over 12,500 people.
This morning Governor Dayton kicked off Thanksgiving Week with the help of a feathered friend. The Governor was joined by a Minnesota-raised turkey, Minnesota Turkey Growers Association President John Zimmerman, Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson, and Colleen Moriarty of Hunger Solutions Minnesota for the occasion.
The Minnesota-raised turkey that took part in today’s festivities comes from a distinguished family – President Obama is pardoning his brother later this week. The turkeys were raised in Badger, Minnesota by John Burkel, Chairman of the National Turkey Federation, and his family.
Minnesota has more independent turkey farmers than any other state with roughly 600 farms. Many of these farmers are fourth and fifth generation turkey farmers – highlighting the long-standing tradition Minnesota has in turkey farming.
Governor Mark Dayton at Farmfest 2013
When I was growing up, I heard a story about how the legendary University of Minnesota football coach, Bernie Bierman, recruited big, strong players for his national championship teams. Reportedly, he drove through Minnesota farm country in the springtime. When he saw a young man walking behind a plow, he stopped and asked for directions to a nearby town. If the young man pointed with his finger, the coach drove on. If, however, the farm boy lifted the plow to point the direction, Bernie recruited him to play football at the U!
Whether or not that story is true, it tells the truth about the strength and spirit of Minnesota farmers. Today’s agriculture requires not only physical strength but also many other skills, to manage complex businesses, overcome all kinds of obstacles, and survive serious setbacks.
Cows are a key component of Minnesota's $15 billion dollar agricultural production industry. Photo credit: Flickr user Jannes Pockele
Minnesota ranks fifth in agricultural production in the United States. The $15 billion dollar industry is vital to Minnesota’s economy. Agriculture also is a major area of international trade for Minnesota. In fact, our state exported $5.2 billion worth of agricultural commodities in 2011!
Governor Mark Dayton recognizes that our agriculture industry is critically important to growing Minnesota’s economy. To better support farmers, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture is providing $1 million to fund livestock production improvements.
The grants will make a big difference for livestock producers seeking to make farm improvements. These enhancements will help our farmers remain competitive and increase their production. Since the initiative began five years ago, it already has helped 179 Minnesota farmers make $55 million dollars in upgrades and improvements to their farms.