In the course of a few years, ethanol has gone from a great idea to a much sought-after alternative to petroleum-based fuel additives.

Not only is ethanol safer and cleaner-burning, but it helps strengthen the nation's energy independence and provides new markets for hundreds of thousands of the U.S. corn growers.

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), with the support of checkoff funds from corn grower organizations including Texas Corn Producers Board, has been a staunch proponent of ethanol and finding new markets for the corn-derived product. One of those markets was the topic of discussion by NCGA President Tim Hume and Chief Executive Officer Rick Tolman during a recent visit to General Motors Alternative Fuels Division, in Detroit. The main topic of discussion was the purchase of a fleet of E-85 pickups and SUVs by GM and Monsanto.

The meeting, sponsored by Monsanto, was productive, said Tolman. "GM officials told us they are very committed to alternative fuels and are putting more research and efforts into that area," he said. "They have completed a study, called "Wells to Wheels," where they have looked at the commercial viability of alternative fuels. The outcome of the study showed ethanol as being the most viable now and for the foreseeable future. Therefore, they are very interested in pursuing ethanol promotion."

Tolman said GM has an extensive list of pickup and SUV configurations available in E-85. They are mainly targeted at fleet buyers, but GM indicated they would like to see more sales go to farmers and farm groups.

"GM's commitment to E-85 is from their strong interest in ethanol and its environmental benefits," said Tolman.

For more information on ethanol and ethanol production, visit the NCGA Website, at

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