Addressing a crowd of nearly 1,200 renewable fuel and rural American advocates at the Renewable Fuels Association’s National Ethanol Conference, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack emphatically emphasized the critical importance of America’s ethanol producers to the well-being of the nation’s economic, environment, and energy security.

In prepared excerpts from the speech, Secretary Vilsack said, “These past few years haven’t been easy for homegrown fuel and its supporters. We’ve had to set the record straight about the effects of ethanol production on food costs, we’ve worked to explain your contributions to the global feed market, and to remind people around the world about the amazing increases in efficiency you have made over the past decade.... .”

Vilsack was also very clear about the need to defend the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), level and expand markets for renewable fuels, and continue to invest in innovative emerging ethanol technologies. “This is obviously a very difficult budget environment,” Vilsack continued. “But we must continue to press forward. We need to provide a sustained and strong defense of the RFS2. We need to work together to help level the playing field so consumers have easy access to renewable fuels. And we need to help maintain ethanol production so you can serve as a platform for our transition to producing more advanced biofuels. All of those challenges rely on us to continue to be innovators.... .”

After his remarks, RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen praised the commitment of Secretary Vilsack to America’s ethanol industry and all of rural America. “There is no greater advocate and champion for domestic renewable fuels than Secretary Vilsack. He understands the importance of a robust renewable fuels industry to rural America and the contributions such an industry can make to the nation’s energy security and economic vitality. All the attendees of the RFA’s National Ethanol Conference are committed to working with Secretary Vilsack, USDA, and the entire Obama administration to achieve our shared vision of a strong, diverse, and innovative renewable fuels and bio-based products industry.”

An audio and video replay of Secretary Vilsack’s passionate speech is available at