ACGA to discuss ethanol at annual convention

By Susanne Retka Schill | January 03, 2009
Web exclusive posted Jan. 8, 2009, at 3:47 p.m. CST

Ethanol will be the focus of several sessions at the 22nd annual convention of the American Corn Growers Association, which will be held Jan. 15-16 in Coralville, Iowa.

David Blume, author of "Alcohol Can Be a Gas," will lead a workshop at 1 p.m., Jan. 15 covering the fundamental concepts for ethanol production for small and medium-sized farmers and entrepreneurs. The workshop is open to the public.

On Jan. 16, Jim Hightower will be a keynote speaker at the convention. A panel on energy policy will include: Blume; Roya Stanely, director of Iowa's Office of Energy Independence; Dan McGuire, chief executive officer of the American Corn Growers Foundation; and Larry Flowers from the National Research Energy Laboratory.

Other panel discussion will cover ethics in agriculture, trade, conservation, marketing and food policy. The convention closes with a discussion of policies for the ACGA to present to U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's administration. "We intend to pursue all issues impacting working farmers with the utmost vigor," said Keith Dittrich, ACGA chairman, "including calling for support for federal policy reforms to protect against the negative impacts of radical market fluctuations caused by natural disasters, economic downturns, and the growing worldwide demand for food and biofuels."

Biofuels are among the ACGA's key priorities for 2009. The organization is calling for an expansion of renewable energy production incentives; establishment of a strategic ethanol/biofuels reserve; provisions for financial backstopping for renewable fuels plants in financial trouble; establishment of a Commodity Credit Corp. price support mechanism for biofuels; a 10-year extension of the renewable energy production tax credit; and development of a federal indemnification program for contracted agricultural commodities. Other priorities deal with farm policy, Farm Bill funding and trade issues.