Every four years, Iowa has the unique opportunity to be the first in the nation caucus. I know some of you might not consider this unique because it seems to extend the campaign season for a long time. I take the approach that this provides Iowans access to the candidates to talk to them on the issues that matter most to me, our state, and shapes candidate's platforms on a variety of issues.
As an Iowa corn farmer, I see this election process as an opportunity to talk to presidential candidates about their stance on a variety of issues concerning agriculture. After all, 1 in every 5 Iowans are employed by the agricultural industry creating more than 418,777 jobs for the state. To me, one issue rises to the top of all those issues, which is support of the Renewable Fuel Standard better known as the RFS. The RFS is a federal law that requires domestic, renewable, cleaner burning ethanol to be blended into the nation's fuel supply. It has been one of America's most successful energy policies ever.
The Renewable Fuel Standard provides consumers choices at the pump. The oil companies control the market access and would not blend as much ethanol if the RFS didn't require it. Without the RFS the market for my corn and for ethanol would be considerably diminished. Ethanol and the RFS have contributed to a tremendous wealth build in Iowa and the Corn Belt over its lifespan.
Iowa and rural America have enjoyed new vigor and revitalization from ethanol as it has created jobs stimulating the economy. Furthermore, this homegrown fuel has reduced the price of gasoline by over a dollar a gallon for Iowa consumers. According to the American Lung Association, ethanol is cleaner for the air and the environment. It replaces billions of gallons of foreign crude oil each year.
We are in the midst of trying times as farmers with tightening or negative margins. We have a surplus of corn and now is not the time to go away from supporting the market ethanol provides for our farms and the RFS that provides access to the fuel for consumers. When agriculture hurts in Iowa so does the rest of America.
I'm going to caucus this year for a candidate that supports the RFS because as a corn farmer and an Iowan, we can't afford to let the ethanol industry that has built and supported Iowa's economy be taken away from us by a president that doesn't support the RFS. I don't care which side of the political aisle you stand on, but I implore you to support a candidate that supports the RFS. It is truly important whether you are a farmer or not to support the RFS and continue to invest in the state of Iowa.
Bob Hemesath is a farmer from Decorah and President of the Iowa Corn Growers Association