The 7.5 billion gallon Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) included in the federal energy bill passed by Congress gives a tremendous boost to Nebraskaâ€™s corn and ethanol industries, according to the chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board.
Mark Jagels, who farms near Davenport, says the RFS will spur another round of ethanol plant development across the U.S. He says Nebraska is in an ideal position for expansion of the ethanol industry.
"Weâ€™re centrally located and over 65% of our corn crop is irrigated. So, year in and year out, weâ€™re going to have the corn to supply those ethanol plants," Jagels says. "We have abundant water, some of the cheapest electricity in the U.S., a super rail system, and a strong livestock industry to consume the byproducts of ethanol production. We sit in a very good place to strengthen our foothold in ethanol."
Approximately 23% of Nebraskaâ€™s corn supply is currently used for ethanol production. Ethanol is on the verge of surpassing livestock as the number one consumer of Nebraska corn, he explains.
"The livestock industry also stands to benefit as ethanol production expands," Jagels adds. "Distillers grains--the byproduct of ethanol--makes an excellent feed ingredient. Weâ€™ve done the feeding trials, through the University of Nebraska, and livestock feeders are excited about using distillers grains in their feeding operations."
Rural communities and the Nebraska economy will also benefit from expansion of the ethanol industry, according to Jagels.
"Nebraska has eleven ethanol plants currently. Most of them are in rural areas and they directly employ nearly 1,000 workers in total," says Jagels. Nebraskaâ€™s economy stands to benefit as more plants are ready to build and expand, creating jobs and wealth throughout the state."
Jagels says the RFS is also a big victory for U.S. consumers. "This is one of our nationâ€™s most important steps ever to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, create jobs in rural America and reduce pollution. And it will encourage growth in an industry that will reduce the cost consumers have to pay for gasoline."