Northey Talks About Ethanol And The Future Of Ag
Ottumwa, Iowa – Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture made a stop at Ottumwa’s Bridgeview Center on Friday to help kick off Albia radio station KIIC’s first annual regional ag show.
He gave a speech to a gathered group as part of the opening of the newly developed ag show.
Northey said there are many challenges in agriculture. Those include a fairly new initiative to water quality in Iowa. The EPA had expressed concerns over the quality of water in Iowa, and the state initiated a voluntary water quality strategy. This strategy will offer matching funds to farmers that implement practices that help to increase the water quality by such measures as planting ground cover.
Northey said that farmers and suppliers, such as coops, have been behind the water quality initiative. “We’re giving them solutions and working on cost share that will encourage people to be a part of it.”
“This thing has got some good momentum,” said Northey. “I’d like to keep working on that.”
“Iowa is the center of a lot of things that are happening in agriculture. On the farm and off the farm,” added Northey.
“I do want to make sure we still continue to tell that story of Iowa agriculture and raise the profile of non-farmers as well, Northey said of some of his hope to continue if reelected. “Having an appreciation of how important this industry is to Iowa.”
“I love to see the enthusiasm we have among the young people in agriculture. I’d like to encourage that as well,” Northey said. “We need those bright minds figuring out the next steps.”
Northey touched on an possible rule change by the EPA in regards to ethanol blending. “I’ve talked with Administrator McCarthy and certainly other political leaders in Washington about how important this is. This is going to be done not because one or two people talked, but because lots and lots of folks have.”
“I did hear from Administrator McCarthy of the EPA that they heard loud and clear,” Northey said. Northey added that McCarthy said they “did not hit the number right on the initial proposed rule.”
“The feeling of everybody in the room when we heard that was…we’ve heard from the pro-ethanol side that our [EPA] proposal would be very damaging to ethanol. I think there were a lot of folks who helped make that happen,” Northey said. He spoke about how he hoped that potential rule changes would allow Iowa’s ethanol production to grow, even beyond the 10% blends, and biodiesel. Northey pointed towards the next generation of ethanol in cellulose.
Northey hopes the EPA proposal, due out in May or June of this year, “will give a different message than what the first proposal did. I think Iowan’s have spoke very loud and clear about that.”