Friday, November 28, 2008


We had family together for Thanksgiving in Des Moines. I’m sure folks in other occupations have some of the same feelings, but farmers take special ownership of Thanksgiving. Not only is the food produced by farmers, sometimes folks we know, but the blessings of a good harvest hits home for Iowa farmers. We had an unbelievable year, with weather challenges and the market fluctuations. In the end, most of us get to do it again. We will forget some of the great things and some of the challenges, but will certainly be grateful for the good harvest for most folks. A bumper harvest was not universal for all Iowa farmers, as I visited with some last week in southern Iowa still harvesting their disappointing (and wet) yields. Maybe next year will be their year…

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Although most of the rest of state government had the day off, I slipped over to Cedar Rapids for a couple of activities. I got more of the inside scoop from the Alliant folks about their program to find energy savings on the farm. They coordinate the program with other programs and have the leading ag energy efficiency program in the country. One more #1 for Iowa and its agriculture that few folks know about. It is especially important in these times of volatile energy costs.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Renewable Fuels

Iowa is a leader in renewable energy production, however we still have work to do to make sure we are using as much of that renewable energy right here in Iowa as possible. Many fuel retailers have gone to great lengths, and often significant expense, to offer and promote renewable energy and deserve recognition.

For the second year, I have the honor to present one ethanol retailer and one biodiesel retailer with the Secretary’s Renewable Fuels Marketing Awards during the PMCS Annual Meeting in Jan. These awards are an opportunity to recognize fuel retailers that have gone above and beyond in their efforts to sell renewable fuels. Awards are presented for both the marketing of ethanol and biodiesel.

Iowa is truly the national leader in renewable fuels, and that would not be possible without support from retailers that market these home-grown fuels.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Election Results

Obviously, in general it was a disappointing night for Republicans. It was always going to be an uphill battle and, in the end, I think the desire for change won the day.

It will be interested in seeing how campaign rhetoric translates into policy. I am looking forward to learning who will be the new leaders at USDA, but also at EPA, the Department of Energy and other areas that impact agriculture in the Obama administration.

In Iowa, there were certainly some bright spots for Republicans in races for the state legislature. In addition, there were a number of good candidates elected on both sides of the aisle who understand agriculture and renewable energy and I believe will work to make sure Iowa remains a leader on these vital issues.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

VeraSun & Grain Indemnity

This is an exciting time in agriculture, but it is also very unsettled. Higher cost for inputs and increased prices for commodities have created new opportunities, but also raised the stakes. The wide price swings we’ve seen for both corn and soybeans this year have created new risks for both farmers and agribusinesses. As a result, it’s vital farmers are taking the appropriate steps to manage their risk and understand what protections are in place.

For more information on VeraSun and the Grain Indemnity fund, visit the Department's website at