National Corn Growers Association Corn Board Member Jon Holzfaster represented the interests of American farmers today during a Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Committee and Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety oversight hearing on domestic renewable fuels. The two panel session included testimony from government officials and industry leaders on the environmental and economic impacts of the Renewable Fuel Standard and increased use of domestically produced biofuels such as corn ethanol.
In his testimony, Holzfaster stressed the importance of the RFS in supporting jobs, reducing dependence on foreign oil, lowering fuel prices for consumers and improving the environmental footprint of our nation's transportation fuels.
Additionally, he attested to the important role distillers dried grains have come to play in the beef, dairy, swine and poultry industries thus further negating arguments against increased ethanol use based in the false dichotomy constructed by anti-ethanol advocates of the food versus fuel argument.
In his testimony, Holzfaster spoke from both his personal experience as a cattle feeder and as a corn farmer who markets grain to the ethanol industry. From this position, he provided credible testimony on the importance of ethanol to American agriculture while also advocating for its environmental benefits.
Holzfaster directly addressed recent criticism of corn ethanol and the RFS based in the idea that corn production for ethanol has forced land out of the Conservation Reserve Program. Granting that CRP sign-up acreage has decreased, he pointed out that continuous sign-ups have increased and still target the most environmentally sensitive land leaving the environmentally sound acres to return to production.
Finally, he stressed the importance of maintaining the integrity of the RFS. Explaining that the uncertainty created by the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed changes to renewable volume obligations in 2014 negatively impacts farmers reliant upon the RFS for assurance of a viable commodity market, he strongly urged the Committee and Subcommittee to consider the perspective of America's farmers who already have made planting decisions based upon the rule.
"This recent decline in the price of corn is the largest drop in prices in six decades," Holzfaster explained. "Combined with increased input costs and lower crop prices, it will no longer be viable for farmers to continue to provide the resources they do. Any uncertainty regarding the RFS erodes confidence, undermines potential investment and generally stifles the robust growth we have seen in America's heartland."
Holzfaster participated in the second of these two panels along with Growth Energy Co-chairman General Wesley Clark, DuPont Senior Vice President of Industrial Biosciences, Performance Polymers and Packaging and Industrial Polymers Jim Collins Jr., American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers President Charles Drevna, Advanced Ethanol Council Executive Director Brooke Coleman and Environmental Working Group Vice President of Government Affairs Scott Faber.
The first panel included testimony from EPA Office of Transportation and Air Quality Director Chris Grundler and Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Power Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Power Steven Chalk.