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Corn Growers call for early action on energy bill, spending measures

(Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2004 -- CropChoice news) -- From a news release:

Contact: Larry Mitchell (202) 835-0330

Keith Dittrich, president of the American Corn Growers Association (ACGA) and a corn farmer from Tilden, Neb., urged quick action from the second session of the 108th Congress, scheduled to gavel into session later this month. Dittrich asked for expeditious attention on both the energy bill and the 2004 Fiscal Year omnibus appropriations legislation.

ACGA, the nation's leading farm and rural voice for renewable energy such as ethanol and wind power, is urging Congress to move forward with the pending energy bill, now stalled in a joint conference committee. "Not only does this legislation increase the demand for renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, it also increases the incentives to produce and use renewable power sources such as wind," said Dittrich.

"The energy bill contains many provisions that are important to the economic and environmental well being of our rural citizens and these initiatives should be a part of the early agenda for Congress this year," stated Larry Mitchell, CEO of the organization. "ACGA strongly supports the passage and enactment of a Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), which will more than double the demand for ethanol, thus creating almost a billion bushels of new corn demand. Additionally, ACGA supports the bill's extension of the wind power Production Tax Credit (PTC), which will assist in encouraging new farmer-owned wind power development projects".

"Other provisions that we fully support will make farmer-owned ethanol cooperatives eligible for the Small Producers Tax Credit and inclusion of tax incentives for soybean-based biodiesel," added Dittrich. "ACGA also supports tax incentives included in the bill for the upgrade and expansion of electricity transmission. This key provision not only insures that rural America will have adequate and affordable power, but provides the 'farm-to-market road' we need to get our new crop, wind generated electricity, to market."

"With only six of the thirteen appropriations bills passed for the current fiscal year, which started over three months ago, and the current Continuing Resolution set to expire at the end of this month, it is imperative Congress complete action on the pending omnibus spending package," added Dittrich. "But before final action on the spending passage, the House provision which prohibits implementation of Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) must be removed. Last year, long before the outbreak of BSE in the U.S., 91 percent of corn farmers polled agreed that the USDA should follow the law as passed by Congress and its intent by requiring COOL on imported meat from foreign countries. Congress must restore funding for this essential provision of the 2002 farm bill, and act as soon as possible to fund its implementation.

The American Corn Growers Association represents 14,000 members in 35 states. See ttp://www.acga.org .