DES MOINES — Iowa corn farmers have a vested interest in the next president, who will wield immense influence over the future of a federal program fueled by corn-based ethanol.
The advocacy group America’s Renewable Future has been active on the caucus trail, attempting to generate support from candidates and voters for the federal Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires a certain percentage of ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply.
“It’s something that’s really important to our economy and to our future,” said Patty Judge, a former Iowa lieutenant governor and a co-chair for America’s Renewable Future.
Iowa produces nearly one-third of the nation’s ethanol, and nearly half of Iowa’s corn goes into ethanol production, according to the Iowa Corn Growers Association.
Iowa’s renewable fuels industry, which includes biodiesel production, supports 47,000 jobs and accounts for $5 billion of the state’s gross domestic product, according to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.
But Iowa’s ethanol industry could take a hit if the next president lowers the fuel standard or joins Congress in repealing it.
America’s Renewable Future is doing what it can to ensure the next president will support the standard.
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The group is a coalition of companies, organizations and individuals. Its state chairman is Eric Branstad, son of Gov. Terry Branstad.
The group is informing presidential candidates and encouraging voters to support candidates who support the standard.
Judge aid “it’s not surprising” that many presidential hopefuls come to Iowa with “almost no knowledge” of the role renewable fuels play.
Front-runners in the polls — Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, and Donald Trump, a Republican — have said they would support the fuel standard. But Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, wants to do away with it.
“This is not a mandate. It is not a subsidy,” Judge said. “It is simply saying we have a market share here.
“This is an education process, and we’ll keep at it.”