Growth Energy's Tom Buis Addresses NFU Convention

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Tom Buis, the CEO of Growth Energy, an ethanol advocacy group, says biofuels production brings an incredible opportunity to the U.S.

"The production of renewable energy from the farm is the greatest economic opportunity our country's had in my lifetime," Buis said during an address at the National Farmers Union's 110th anniversary convention being held in La Vista, Neb.

Buis, who is a former president of NFU, said the organization has done so much to give hope to people in rural America with their support of the ethanol industry. He said years ago there were concerns about market concentration and monopolies in this country and most people said you couldn't do anything about it.

"The ethanol industry has proven that you can do something about market concentration," Buis said. "With the passage of certain policies, that advanced the biofuels industry, we saw the greatest increase in competition in the marketplace in this country's history."

Because of favorable policies, corn now has 200 new buyers of commodities used to produce ethanol, Buis said.

The Growth Energy leader discussed a wide range of issues surrounding the future of the biofuels industry. One of the first issues he addressed was the debate over food versus fuel.

"I've heard some whoppers in my lieftime," Buis said. "But I've never heard a lie bigger than the food vs. food debate."

Buis said the price of energy is the biggest driver of the price of food, not the production of ethanol. The second most driver of the price of food is the excessive speculation in the commodity markets.

"Wall Street drove up the price of nearly every commodity," Buis said. "It didn't make sense on market principles, it was all on speculation."

Buis also discussed E15 (15% ethanol blend), indirect land use, and the Renewable Fuel Standard. He also touched on the partnership that American Ethanol has begun with NASCAR, in which they now use E15 in their race cars.

Ethanol is only 10 percent of the marketplace right now, but Buis says, "We save the American consumer an average of 25 cents per gallon. If we move to E15 it's another 5 to 10 cents per gallon savings to the consumer."

Ethanol production adds $40 billion to our GDP, employs directly or indirectly 500,000 people and has displaced over 14.5 billion gallons of gasoline.

Buis says ethanol's net energy balance is more efficient than oil, at 2.2:1. Ethanol is more efficient, takes less water to produce, and is better for the environment. Even with all of this evidence, there will be people trying to tear down everything that ethanol has built. But he said he will continue to work with the Farmers Union to win.

"The fight's going to be tough, we need your help, we want to partner with you as we move forward."

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