Cruz won’t bend on RFS opposition

Source: By Kathie Obradovich, Des Moines Register • Posted: Monday, March 2, 2015

Ted Cruz

Don’t expect U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz to shuck his opposition to the ethanol-friendly Renewable Fuel Standard when he comes to the Iowa Ag Summit next weekend.

“Ethanol producers in Iowa have demonstrated that there is a real demand for their product and that demand will exist without the federal government getting in the middle,” Cruz said in an interview during the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Cruz has opposed the federal regulation that sets a minimum amount of renewable energy that must be blended into motor fuel. Iowa officials of both parties, including Gov. Terry Branstad, have insisted the standard is vital to the industry and have bitterly opposed a move by the Obama administration to roll it back.

Cruz suggests he’s all for renewable energy as long as the government isn’t involved. “I think anytime government tries to pick winners and losers, it’s a mistake,” he said.

Ethanol producers point out, however, that the RFP ensures they can get their products to consumers. If ethanol doesn’t have access to gas pumps, any market it has will quickly evaporate. “Ensuring market access is important,” Cruz said, “but there’s a difference between that and a federal mandate that’s distorting the market.”

That’s not a majority opinion in Iowa, but it likely won’t disqualify Cruz if he runs in the Iowa caucuses. As important as agriculture is to Iowa’s economy, it’s not an issue that comes up often in candidate forums or debates. The ag summit on March 7, sponsored by GOP activist and agribusinessman Bruce Rastetter, may give Iowans their best indication of where the GOP’s 2016 field stands on farm issues.

Asked what message he intends to bring to the ag summit, Cruz said he’s “looking forward to a conversation about the challenges facing farmers.”

He said he sees the federal government getting more antagonistic toward farmers and their way of life. “They’re seeing an EPA making it more and more difficult for a family farm to survive,” he said.

Cruz, during the interview, also made sure to praise the Iowa caucus process. “One of the wonderful things about our democratic system in this country is the unique and special role that the state of Iowa plays,” he said.

He noted the joke (which isn’t really a joke) about Iowans refusing to pick a candidate without meeting them all in person.

“I’ll tell you, the citizens of Iowa along with the citizens of New Hampshire are both performing a vital function for Americans throughout the country of having the opportunity to not be snowed by who’s got the slickest TV ads but take a genuine measure of who’s telling the truth.”

For more information on the Iowa Ag Summit, go to