U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack proved he knows geography when he spoke at Big Iron recently. He was at the the West Fargo, N.D., farm show and at a forum was asked whether big oil is still fighting ethanol.
“Let see,” he said after a short pause, “I’m in North Dakota, the fourth largest oil producing state, and I’m in front of a bunch of farmers…”
He went on to say that he “hopes” big oil now sees ethanol as a friend.
Ethanol can help the U.S. reduce oil imports from hostile countries, he said. It would still buy oil from North Dakota and its allies.
Geography played a part in another question. A member of the audience at an issues forum told Vilsack that CRP was hurting North Dakota’s economy because it took land out of production, reduced crop input purchases and slowed Main Street sales. Vilsack acknowledged CRP may be a negative for North Dakota economy. But elsewhere, CRP was proving to be an economic development program, he said. He cited increases in hunting, fishing and other land-based recreation activities.