Area Farmers Pleased With Federal Energy Bill

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Pearl City farmer Ryan Keltner is thrilled politicians in Washington are helping out farmers in Stephenson County thanks to the recently passed energy bill.

"It's exciting for me because it adds more value that we can use for our product locally," Keltner said.

The bill calls for a renewable fuels standard, which requires the production more than 7.5 billion gallons of ethanol and biodiesel by 2012, much larger than the four billion gallons currently produced. This means area farmers can produce more corn, and likely produce more profits.

"The farm bill also provided incentives to open new retailer stores, and the more we can put opportunities to give consumers to purchase ethanol, it makes it more popular and more widely used," Keltner said.

Getting more consumers to switch from gasoline to E85 ethanol in their cars is the big challenge. However, leaders at the area's only ethanol refinery in Lena believe the energy bill will raise demand and eventually add dozens of E85 pumps across Northern Illinois.

"Save yourself some money and help the local economy, because those dollars stay in the economy, get spent several times more if they stay here rather than going to the Mideast," Jay Butson said.

And with new ethanol comes new ethanol refineries, providing new jobs for plant workers, truck drivers and the workforce of rural America.

"It will keep people farming. That's a problem we have is not having enough income for the farming community to sustain a viable lifestyle," Butson said.

A lifestyle and livelyhood, looking more promising in the future, thanks to a new national energy policy.