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Kansas growers support ethanol industry's interest in raising ethanol limit


Interest in the ethanol industry to move beyond the current 10 percent ethanol regulatory blending cap or "blend wall" would benefit growers of grains used to make ethanol, according to the Kansas Corn Growers Association and Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association. Producers in Kansas stand ready to provide the feedstock to make such an increase successful if it is approved.

The pieces seem to be falling into place to move beyond the blend wall. Underwriters Laboratories recently issued a decision that ethanol blends up to 15 percent can be used in existing fuel pumps. Media reports say the Environmental Protection Agency is looking at the possibility of allowing higher ethanol blends, and ethanol industry groups appear poised to request action from EPA. Kiplinger.com has published a letter from Ford Motor Company indicating some support for efforts to raise the ethanol blend wall up to 15 percent.

"Our growers have proven time and time again that we can produce enough grain to satisfy the needs of our customers. Kansas farmers produced over 700 million bushels of corn and grain sorghum on 6.6 million acres in 2008," according to Sue Schulte, KCGA and KGSPA communications director. "We will continue to work with our customers to safely produce an abundant supply of grain for feed, fuel and food uses. Efforts by the ethanol industry to move consumer fuel choices beyond the 10 percent ethanol blend wall are both directly and indirectly tied to our farmers bottom line."

EPA would be the agency which would determine whether the ethanol level can be increased.

"We have confidence in EPA's ability to conduct a science-based review pertaining to higher ethanol blends," Schulte said. "There are many credible studies that would support the ethanol industry's efforts to increase the base level of ethanol in fuel up to 15 percent."

Kansas currently has 12 ethanol operating ethanol plants that produce nearly 450 million gallons of ethanol per year. About 160 million bushels of corn and grain sorghum are used to make ethanol in Kansas. In 2008, Kansas farmers produced over 700 million bushels of corn and grain sorghum. One-third of the grain used for ethanol returns to the feeding stream as distillers grains, a high-nutrient livestock feed valued by Kansas livestock feeders.

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