One of the highlights of the ethanol summit in Indianapolis a few days ago was an announcement that the Indiana Corn Marketing Council has launched a new program so that Hoosier drivers get a choice of ethanol blends when they pull up to the gas pump.
The Corn Marketing Council, the organization that manages checkoff dollars contributed by Indiana corn growers, unveiled the Flex Fuel program. It offers cost-share dollars to retailers in the gas business who will install flex-fuel pumps. Also called blending pumps, these pumps allow consumers to choose which blend of ethanol they want to use in their care. The pumps can be set to dispense all the way up to 85% ethanol blends. The other 15% would be petroleum fuels. Flex-fuel cars are needed to take advantage of these options.
David Howell, Middletown, a Master Farmer named a year ago along with his wife, Mary, is vice president of the corn marketing council. He believes the new program allows corn farmers to take check-off money and support the state's growing ethanol industry. Drivers will be able to choose other blends besides just E-85. They can also go with 20%, 30% or even 50% blends.
Fuel retailers can also get incentives for installing such pumps through a federal program. It's called the USDA Rural Energy for America program. Fuel station owners who install blender pumps can get incentives.
A recent study confirms that ethanol is an economic driver in Indiana. It says Indiana's 13 operating ethanol plants create 3,486jobs. Totally, these plants can produce over one million gallons of ethanol per year. Before the Daniels Administration took office, there was only one large-scale ethanol plant and one specialty ethanol producer located in Indiana. Promoting ethanol plants was a goal of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture in the early days of this new organization.
The study further says that the production of one million gallons generates $3.2 billion annually in sales and revenue.
While there is lots of enthusiasm for ethanol, not everyone is on the bandwagon. Ernie Brames, Huntingburg, a livestock producer, continues to push for an end to the federal subsidy for ethanol producers.
He's not against ethanol, he insists. He simply wants a level playing field between those who produce corn for ethanol and livestock producers. His theory is that livestock producers aren't on a level playing field since they don't get any government incentives- they have to compete on the open market.