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LAS VEGAS – Ethanol producers are beginning to win the battle against Big Oil companies and must continue the fight, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack stated during his keynote address during this week's National Ethanol Conference at the Wynn Las Vegas.
"My message is, you need to keep fighting. You can’t afford not to. Rural America is at stake," he stressed.
The former Governor of Iowa acknowledged that ethanol producers have a challenging road ahead. "It’s challenging because some people are asking us to choose between food and fuel," he said, speaking directly to the ethanol producers at the conference. "You are being tested in courts, overseas with trade barriers and restrictions, and in the halls of Congress. The reason is: you are winning. You are making a difference. You are growing consumer choice. Folks on the other side are concerned."
The ethanol industry will continue to face a tough road, the Secretary of Agriculture noted. In order to keep winning the battle, he said the industry first needs more people to speak on its behalf. "You need to strategically align with environmental groups -- strategic alliances with national and state and local environmental groups," Vilsack advised. Secondly, ethanol producers need a proactive message."You may not have as much money as [the] oil companies," he said. "But you do have a lot of young people on your side who can blanket social media. Use these people, inspire them."
Vilsack concluded that it's time to get more advanced biofuels into the market. "It can literally change a country," he said. "It’s that big."
The National Ethanol Conference was presented by the Renewable Fuels Association.