WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Renewable fuels hold considerable promise, but meeting long-term US energy needs requires a multi-faceted approach based on economic reality, the leader of CHS Inc., the nation's largest member-owned agricultural company, said today.

John D. Johnson, president and chief executive officer, outlined the St. Paul, Minn., based cooperative's position on energy and agriculture during a panel discussion at the USDA annual Ag Outlook Conference.

"CHS believes renewable fuels, including corn-based ethanol, offer tremendous opportunity for our nation, our planet and, in particular, the people of rural America," Johnson said. "But we need to be prudent, to continually revisit the big picture and to make certain we recognize and address all of the challenges that are part of renewable fuels."

CHS is the nation's largest cooperative petroleum refiner, marketer and distributor, with refineries in Montana and Kansas. It is also the third largest US grain company and the owner of 22 percent of US BioEnergy Corp., the nation's second largest ethanol manufacturer.

Johnson called for "broad and realistic" approaches to the nation's energy future.

"We at CHS visualize our nation's energy future not as a single pathway, but as a four-lane superhighway, if you will, each lane representing one component of the solution, but all headed in the same direction," he said. "We categorize these as fossil fuels, renewable fuels, emerging energy technologies and conservation."

He added that as a company owned by 350,000 farmers and serving rural communities in more than two dozen states, CHS is very supportive of opportunities renewable fuels like ethanol provide for farmers to gain additional return on the grain they grow and for economic growth in rural America.

"We're strong advocates of expanding opportunities for agricultural producers and rural America to be active participants in whatever the future holds for renewable fuels," Johnson said. "We also recognize that renewable fuels are no longer simply a farm program. They are an important part of our nation's energy future."

CHS Inc. is a diversified energy, grains and foods company committed to providing the essential resources that enrich lives. A Fortune 500 company, CHS is owned by farmers, ranchers and cooperatives from the Great Lakes to the Pacific Northwest and from the Canadian border to Texas, along with thousands of preferred stockholders. CHS provides products and services ranging from grain marketing to food processing to meet the needs of customers around the world. It also operates petroleum refineries/pipelines and, through a broad range of working partnerships, markets and distributes Cenex(R) brand energy products and renewable fuels, along with agronomic inputs and livestock feed to rural America.

SOURCE: CHS Inc. via PR Newswire.