He explained that his focus is on long-term projects like REAP and BCAP instead of the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC), which is set to expire at the end of the year.
Vilsack, who described himself as an emphatic supporter of the ethanol industry, received Growth Energy’s “Fueling Growth” award for his support of domestic, renewable fuels.
“Were we to get the 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel, we’d reduce our reliance by 18 percent, which is roughly equivalent to what we’re importing form the Middle East,” Vilsack said. “We can either create opportunity here or fuel opportunity elsewhere. There is no better opportunity to help revitalize a rural economy than this industry.”
Describing the ethanol industry as an example of American innovation and an industry in its infancy, Vilsack said it is important for providing a source of nonfarm income to producers.
“We have a large number of producers that are midsized operators; they just simply do not make enough from their farming operations, at the present time, with a commodity-based structure, to be able just to work on the farm,” he said. “One of the beauties of this industry is it offers opportunities for farmers to be owners of processing facilities so they are benefitting from not just the production, but from the processing of their plant.”
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