Ethanol Is Winner In Iowa Caucus

The two presidential candidates who finished on top on Republican side in the Iowa Caucus both support the Renewable Fuels Standard.

Published on: Jan 7, 2012

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association is declaring that the January 3, 2012 Iowa Caucus results are a big victory for renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel.

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, and Rick Santorum, former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, were the top two finishers among candidates vying for the Republican nomination for U.S. president in the Iowa Caucus. Both expressed their support for the federal Renewable Fuels Standard while campaigning in Iowa. In addition, both candidates were 4-for-4 on ethanol issues, according to the Iowans Fueled With Pride Iowa Caucus Voter Guide. (For more information on the voter guide, visit www.IowansFueledWithPride.com.)

The Iowa Caucus is the first-in-the nation event, the kick-off to the upcoming primary season that begins the process of choosing the next president of the United States. Romney edged Santorum for first place by a mere 8 votes (30,015 to 30,007) in the statewide caucus.

Corn growers and ethanol producers see victory in caucus results

"Despite scant attention to agriculture issues by the national media, both Governor Romney and Senator Santorum prioritized rural and ag issues," says Walt Wendland, past president of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. "It came as no surprise to us that friends of ethanol fared well in the Iowa Caucus. Our nation needs an energy policy that recognizes the importance of domestic renewable fuels like ethanol and biodiesel."

Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, the fourth place finisher, is also a strong supporter of ethanol and biodiesel while the bottom two vote getters, U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Texas Governor Rick Perry, refused to support the renewable fuels standard.

Iowans Fueled with Pride is a coalition of Iowa renewable fuels producers committed to providing accurate and current information to the public, to elected officials and to candidates for office, says Wendland. They work to foster an open and comprehensive debate about the future of U.S. energy policy. The coalition does not endorse candidates for office. Wendland is CEO of Golden Grain Energy, an ethanol plant near Mason City, Iowa, and also of Homeland Energy Solutions near Lawler, Iowa.

Several of these candidates cause corn growers to be concerned

Corn growers and ethanol producers have long counted on the Iowa Caucuses to help guarantee that the corn and ethanol industry has political clout in Washington. There was little in the results of Tuesday's caucus voting in Iowa that should be disappointing.

Two of the candidates the biofuels industry was most worried about—Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann--did poorly as vote-getters in Iowa. Bachmann announced Wednesday morning she is dropping out of the presidential race. She won just 5% of the vote in Iowa and finished in sixth place.

Perry, with only 10% of the vote and a disappointing fifth place finish in the Iowa Caucus, says he's still in the presidential race and will compete in the South Carolina primary. He's skipping the New Hampshire primary, the next step after Iowa in the winnowing process of presidential candidates; the South Carolina primary is the third of a number of upcoming primaries on the road to the November 6, 2012 general election. Many corn growers and ethanol producers are wary of Perry because of his campaign's extensive backing by oil interests in his home state of Texas.

Texas congressman Ron Paul, a libertarian who opposes government subsidies of any kind, finished third in Iowa, but his chances of getting the Republican nomination are considered slim.

Top two finishers seen as supportive of biofuels and farm programs

The ethanol industry's biggest backer by far, Newt Gingrich, finished a distant fourth in Iowa. The top two finishers, Romney and Santorum, are seen as supportive of both biofuels and farm programs. Romney, who edged Santorum by a mere eight votes in the Iowa Caucus, earned a "B" as a grade in the Iowa Corn Growers Association's evaluation of the Republican candidates. Santorum got an A-minus. Gingrich had the lone "A" grade.

The ICGA in partnership with the National Corn Growers Association released the "Corn Caucus Project Presidential Report Card" on November 30. The report card serves as a reference guide to presidential candidates' positions on ag policies. "The Corn Caucus Project is an initiative to help Iowa's corn growers compare the candidates on ag issues," says Kevin Ross, ICGA president. "We do not make any recommendations or endorsements, we just let the candidates speak for themselves."

The Corn Caucus Project Presidential Report Card provides information on the eight major candidates' responses to questions on legislative priorities for corn. Topics in the survey include: ethanol, farm programs, Environmental Protection Agency regulations, trade and transportation, etc. Based on survey responses submitted by presidential candidates, and media and official records, each candidate was evaluated and graded. If a candidate failed to complete the survey, the ICGA committee used published statements, official records or information from the candidate's website to complete the voter guide.