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Posted on  

October 25, 2001

NCGA Explores Building Ethanol, Renewables Industry With California Agriculture and State Agencies

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), long a proponent of ethanol in the interest of the nation's corn growers, kicked off its weeklong ethanol outreach in California this week, extending an offer of expertise, information and experience as agricultural and state groups look to build markets for renewables in the state.

``This week, we are meeting with California agricultural groups and state officials to discuss California's gasoline situation and how we can all work together to solve California's problems using California's resources as much as possible,'' said NCGA Chairman Lee Klein, a corn grower from Battle Creek, Neb.

On Monday, the NCGA group -- consisting of Klein, Illinois Corn Marketing Board member and NCGA Ethanol Marketing Committee member Theresa Schmalshof, Executive Vice President and CEO Rick Tolman and Colorado School of Mines Professor and NCGA Consultant Mike Graboski -- kicked off the ethanol outreach program by meeting with California agricultural commodity groups. Attending that meeting were representatives of the California Feed and Grain Association, the California Rice Commission, the California Farmers Rice Cooperative and the California Farm Bureau.

The NCGA delegation met with California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Bill Lyons, California Energy Commission Manager Pat Perez and California Trade and Commerce Agency Secretary Lon Hatamiya. Thursday, the group will meet with California EPA Secretary Winston Hickox.

``Again, in these meetings, we talked about the tremendous opportunities that are developing for ethanol in the state of California,'' said Klein. ``We also began exploring ways we can work with these influential agencies to develop the ethanol industry in California.''

Klein continued: ``I must admit that, going into these meetings, we didn't know what to expect in terms of enthusiasm for the development of a renewable fuels industry in California. However, in each meeting, we were greeted by very hospitable individuals -- dedicated to the good of their state -- who are not only interested, but excited about building an ethanol industry. Each of these individuals said they were glad we are here, and expressed a desire to utilize corn growers' knowledge, expertise and experience in developing an ethanol industry here.''

Klein noted that the corn growers came to California as a group interested in developing an ethanol industry not only from corn, but from other agricultural products from which starch and sugar for ethanol production can be derived.

In the meetings, he noted that the NCGA delegation answered questions and reassured the agricultural groups and agency officials about prices, the ability to meet demands and environmental safety.

Schmalshof, representing the Illinois Corn Marketing Board and the NCGA Ethanol Marketing Committee, said she believes the success of the ethanol industry in Illinois can be repeated in California.

``Our group is here to extend the offer of support, sharing knowledge and hard-earned experience in the Midwest,'' Schmalshof said. ``We want California farmers, government officials and environmental groups to know they have much to gain right here in their own back yard. Yes, corn growers nationwide will benefit, but California has much to gain too.''

Klein concluded that, together, the California agricultural sector and state officials can work together to achieve goal of expanding the ethanol industry in the state in the interest of California consumers and the nation as a whole.

``We look forward to continuing our relationship with the agricultural groups and state agencies as the ethanol industry becomes a viable and profitable part of California's agricultural and overall economies,'' he said.



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