May 23, 2002

MCGA Says Ethanol Legislation Will Benefit Farmers, Environment

"The Missouri Corn Growers Association played an important role in pushing for improved ethanol and agriculture legislation, and our hard work was rewarded today," says Brent Rockhold, MCGA president.

On May 17, the final day of the 2002 legislative session, the Missouri General Assembly passed several bills important to ethanol and agriculture, including House Bill 1348, Senate Bill 984 and Senate Bill 915. Ethanol, a motor vehicle fuel made from corn, helps clean the air in metropolitan Missouri while providing important rural economic development. Missouri currently has two farmer-owned ethanol plants, Northeast Missouri Grain near Macon, and Golden Triangle Energy at Craig.

House Bill 1348, omnibus agriculture legislation, includes provisions to enhance the Missouri ethanol program and requires that ethanol plants must be at least 51 percent farmer-owned to qualify for program payments. The bill also removes mandatory ethanol fuel pump labels and bans the harmful fuel additive methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE).

Senate Bill 984, relating to environmental regulation, also makes additional important enhancements to the Missouri ethanol program.

Senate Bill 915, the transportation-funding bill, provides stable funding for the Missouri ethanol program.

Brent Rockhold, Missouri Corn Growers Association president and corn farmer from Arbela claims passage of the three bills are a huge win for corn growers.

"The Missouri Corn Growers Association played an important role in pushing for improved ethanol and agriculture legislation, and our hard work was rewarded today. The new legislation is a win-win-win for farmers, consumers and the environment. We greatly appreciate the tremendous support of our friends in the Missouri General Assembly.

"Our special thanks go to Senator John Cauthorn and Senator Morris Westfall for their tireless efforts in shepherding the ethanol provisions and supporting Missouri corn growers. We also appreciate the work of the handlers of the three bills, Senator Bill Foster and Representative Peter Myers for H.B. 1348, Senator Sarah Steelman and Representative Denny Merideth for S.B. 984, and Senator Morris Westfall and Representative Don Koller for Senate Bill 915. Several others made important contributions to the effort, including Representative Maurice Lawson, who amended S.B. 984 to include the provisions and Representative Sam Berkowitz, who introduced H.B. 1837, the original bill with ethanol program enhancements."

The legislation is expected to further improve the environment quality in St. Louis and other Missouri metropolitan areas. Ethanol reduces harmful toxic emissions and emissions that cause greenhouse gases. Because the legislation bans MTBE, a fuel additive found to pollute drinking water in Missouri and other states, MTBE will be replaced with ethanol in motor vehicle fuel to meet federal clean air requirements in St. Louis. Removal of the mandatory pump label opens the door to voluntary, positive ethanol pump labels, and ethanol sales in Missouri are expected to increase as a result.

Missouri's farmer-owned ethanol industry is also expected to grow as a result of the legislation. Through expansion construction, Northeast Missouri Grain will double the annual ethanol output of the plant in the next year. Three additional farmer-owned efforts are also underway to build ethanol plants in west-central, east-central and southeast Missouri. A recent independent study found that the direct and indirect benefits of the current ethanol industry are 1,815 additional jobs and a $172.8 million increase in total economic output. The direct and indirect benefits of five plants would be 8,890 new jobs and an $845 million increase in total economic output. By providing increased fuel supply, the additional ethanol production in Missouri is also expected to help moderate fuel prices.

Two of the bills, H.B. 1348 and S.B. 984, now go to Governor Holden for his consideration. He is expected to sign the legislation. If signed, H.B. 1348 and S.B. 984 then become law. The transportation funding measure in S.B. 915 will appear on the August 6, 2002 ballot.

"In tight fiscal times, we must also recognize the work of our supporters to hold current funding for the Missouri ethanol program," says Rockhold. "MCGA offers special thanks to Representative Bill Ransdall, who stood up to a fierce anti-ethanol crusade by Senators Goode and Rohrbach in the budget conference. Other supporters in the conference included Senators Russell and Westfall, and Representatives Legan and Bearden."

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