Prominent leaders from agriculture's diverse value chain issued an open letter to policymakers and presidential hopefuls attending the first ever Iowa Ag Summit, urging them to consider Iowa's renewable energy record in wind, solar and biofuels as an example for clean energy policies for the nation.
"Iowa farmers have demonstrated they can fuel and feed the planet at the same time," said Ron Heck, an Iowa soybean and corn producer, a former president of the American Soybean Association and a founder of the 25x'25 Alliance. "We're number one in biofuels, number three in installed wind capacity, and installed our largest solar farm last year. We are harnessing homegrown energy in a manner that's good for farmers, the economy and the environment."
Notable signers to the letter, which urges "every single Iowa Ag Summit speaker to acknowledge the critical role wind, solar and biofuels play in building a strong, vibrant farming future for our nation," include the 25x'25 Alliance, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union, the American Council on Renewable Energy, the National Corn Growers Association, the American Soybean Association, the National and Iowa Biodiesel Boards, the American Solar Energy Society, CropLife America, and Windustry.
Iowa ranks near the top in the United States in production of renewable energy.
Biofuels industries have added $13.1 billion to Iowa's economy, generated $4.1 billion in new household income, and created and supported 62,000 jobs statewide. Overall, Iowa accounts for 30 percent of total U.S. biofuels production.
The state obtains 27 percent of its total electricity generation from wind, the largest share among states in the nation and enough to power nearly 1.5 million homes. Iowa is host to 14 active wind-related manufacturing facilities in the state, which create and sustain jobs and strengthen the economy.
According to the Farmers Electric Cooperative, its solar farm in Johnson County will generate roughly enough electricity to power 120 homes out of the 650-home service area and reduce electricity costs for ratepayers.
"As the U.S. and other world economies move to a low carbon future, policymakers need look no further than Iowa for what a vibrant clean energy future can and should look like," said Ernie Shea, Project Coordinator for the 25x'25 Alliance, a coalition united behind the goal of securing 25 percent of the nation's energy needs from renewable sources by the year 2025. "Iowa's farmers have found a way to take advantage of abundant, economical, clean sources of energy. It is my hope that as the Summit convenes, national leaders will look toward Iowa as an example of what is possible for our clean energy future."
The Summit convenes on Saturday. Several presidential hopefuls have confirmed attendance, such as former governors Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee and Rick Perry, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, New York businessman Donald Trump and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
To view a copy of the letter, click HERE.