Ethanol industry sees a victory in caucus results

Source: PHILIP BRASHER • Des Moins Register  • Posted: Friday, January 6, 2012

Corn growers and ethanol producers have long counted on the Iowa caucuses to guarantee the industry had political clout in Washington. There was little in the results Tuesday that should be disappointing.

Two of the candidates the industry was most worried about — Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann — performed poorly. Bachmann announced Wednesday morning that she was suspending her campaign.

The ethanol industry’s biggest backer by far, Newt Gingrich, finished a distant fourth. But the top two finishers in the caucuses, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, are seen as supportive of both biofuels and farm programs. Romney, who edged Santorum by eight votes, earned a “B” in the Iowa Corn Growers Association’s evaluation of the Republican candidates. Santorum got an A-minus. Gingrich had the lone A.

“Despite scant attention on agriculture issues by the national media, both Governor Romney and Senator Santorum prioritized rural and ag issues,” said Walter Wendland, past president of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. “It came as no surprise to us that friends of ethanol fared well in the Iowa caucuses. The nation needs an energy policy that recognizes the importance of domestic renewable fuels like ethanol and biodiesel.”

Texas Rep. Ron Paul, a libertarian who opposes government subsidies of any kind, finished third, but his chances of getting the Republican nomination are considered slim.