As the nation continues to feel the pinch of high gasoline and oil prices continue above $94, the Virginia Grain Producers Association (VGPA) is encouraging Congress to pass a strong renewable fuels standard (RFS) that includes a 15 billion gallon RFS. This will ensure a solid and comprehensive energy package for this country.

Gasoline is once again at an all-time high. Oil prices are still above $94.00 a barrel. This should above all else illustrate the need to encourage and utilize this nation’s renewable energy source such as ethanol made from corn. If Congress does not pass a strong, robust RFS that includes corn ethanol, the message to the ethanol industry would be counter-productive to the market just as ethanol producer’s ramp up production for the growing demand and new technologies coming online.

The corn-based ethanol industry must continue to progress in order to lay the infrastructure for cellulosic. The comprehensive energy legislation passed by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives increases the 7.5 billion gallon renewable fuels standard to 36 billion gallons by 2022. Fifteen billion gallons will come from corn-based ethanol.

Virginia’s producers argue that an RFS that includes the 15 x 15 plan for 15 billion gallons of corn ethanol by 2015 is an important part of the overall ethanol production picture. The production of 15 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol by 2015 will provide an essential renewable fuel component to our energy sources. Furthermore, corn-based ethanol also provides a much-needed additional market for our product bringing stability and structure to the price of corn.

Ethanol isn’t the only product manufactured by ethanol plants. A coproduct of the ethanol process is distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS), a high-protein, high-energy and beneficial nutrient livestock feed. Again, ethanol is providing multiple value-added markets for agriculture producers.

Virginia Grain Producers Association is encouraging the Senate and the House to take an active role in ensuring renewable fuels continues to play a key part of this nation’s energy future. Without an expanded RFS, refiners will not blend more ethanol than needed, corn prices will decline, and small and farmer-owned ethanol plants will be bought up or forced to close their doors.