Corn growers from around the country are lobbying in Washington this week for their top priority: the extension of ethanol tax credits. The effort is part of the National Corn Growers Association Corn Congress. NCGA President Darrin Ihnen says legislation has already been proposed in both chambers to extend the VEETC and other incentives for five years.
"That's very important to our plants, it's important to us as growers," Ihnen said. "It helps get our competitor to blend our product, which is the oil companies. The tax credit goes to them but some of it ends up in our hands as growers and ends up in our ethanol plants so that is very important and our highest priority while we're out here."
Ihnen says the mood of Congress to extend the tax credits has improved as a result of the Gulf oil spill. So even if they fail to get the full five-year extension, they're optimistic for at least a partial victory.
"The mood has gotten better; the big question is the budget issues and how do you pay for some of this stuff so those are the issues we have to work through," Ihnen said. "Legislation that is out there is a five-year extension and we're just going to work with our champions in Congress like Grassley, Shimkus, Pomeroy and Conrad on getting the best deal we can get for ethanol."
He says it's critical to get the extension passed in the next month before Congress breaks for the election. That way they don't run into the same disaster the biodiesel industry has faced with the expiration of their blender credit.
"Really there is only about 30 legislative days left before the election so time is getting very short," Ihnen said. "After the election this fall and in the lame duck you're just not sure what is going to happen then so it does concern us. We're in a little better shape I would say because of the RFS and because of the 10% we are allowed to blend so that puts us in a little different position but again it is a concern."
Ihnen says they're also meeting with officials from EPA and other government agencies and hope to get some answers on the additional testing that is delaying the E15 waiver.