Branstad, Siouxland farmers testify at EPA hearing - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Branstad, Siouxland farmers testify at EPA hearing

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) - Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and two northwest Iowa men are among 150 people in Washington making a case to keep the Renewable Fuel Standard as is.

They testified Thursday at an EPA hearing focusing on a proposal that would cut the amount of ethanol blended gasoline in 2014 by almost 3 billion gallons.

Governor Branstad argued the decision would result in thousands of lost jobs nationwide and hurt the country's agricultural economy.

Branstad said he's urging President Obama and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to continue strong support for renewable fuels.

"There's no reason why they should flinch under the pressure of big oil at this critical time.  We need to continue the progress and  the growth that has occurred and the benefit that this has to revitalize rural america," said Gov. Terry Branstad.

Iowa is the number one producer of both corn and ethanol.  It's home to dozens of ethanol and bio diesel plants.

Rick Hansen, a cattle feeder and crop farmer from Hinton, along with livestock producer and banker Mark Leonard of Holstein, also testified at the EPA hearing.

Hansen said, "I could stand up here and tell you that the co-products from ethanol plants have been great for our business, and that for the first time I see a renewed optimism from the Midwest cattle feeder.  Or I could mention how for the first time in decades farmers are making a living without the help from government farm programs.  Or I could tout the number of young farmers and cattle feeders returning to their home place to follow their dreams and make a living."

"For years, I watched our small towns die while my family and friends left the Midwest because they could not make a living for their families," he said.  "Today, that has all changed. I see a renewed enthusiasm in our towns and new businesses being opened-all due to the ethanol business. And once again I meet my friends and neighbors on the street and they are proud to say they are farmers. Wow! What a difference this ethanol industry has made in our lives."

"As a cattle feeder, cow herd operator and rural banker in western Iowa, I have seen the benefits of renewable fuels and the RFS in every facet of my professional and personal life.  Unfortunately, the current EPA proposal to cut the RFS would see those benefits reversed," Mark Leonard of Holstein stated.  "Livestock operations in general and cattle operations in particular have reaped significant economic benefits from reduced feed costs that come from feeding the co-products of the ethanol industry.  Livestock numbers increase in areas near ethanol plants due to the lower feed costs achieved by feeding gluten feed and DDGs."
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