As fuel prices decrease, farmers are seeing corn ethanol markets drop. What to do? Well, let’s hope we don’t see the price at the pumps go up. Instead, let’s use more ethanol.
What I’m suggesting is oil companies increase the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline – from the mandatory 10 to 30 percent.
And, my reasons are not purely economic. Without higher ethanol blends, a century of research shows the only way to better octane ratings is more carcinogens.
Let me explain. There’s no such thing as pure gasoline. Typical gasoline is made up of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent other petroleum products. And, anywhere from 25 to 40 percent are classified as highly toxic carcinogens. These aromatics include: benzene, toluene and xylene or BTEX.
These facts concern me. My mom passed away from cancer in 2008. Was it caused by benzene, toluene and xylene? We will never know.
And, the government knows all about it. In fact, in the 1990 Clean Air Act, in an effort to minimize specific aromatic pollution or mobile source air toxics, Congress directed the EPA to control hazardous air pollutants to the greatest degree of emission reduction achievable.
Today, corn producers out-yield demand. What can be done?
"Use more ethanol," says Jim Seurer, during the 2018 State convention presentation to SDFU members.
And how do we increase ethanol consumption? The CEO of Glacial Lakes Energy, LLC had an answer for this as well- the E30 Challenge- a clever, consumer education campaign initiated by Glacial Lakes Energy with some financial support from the Urban Air Initiative.
The E30 Challenge is a marketing campaign launched in 2016 in Watertown to motivate drivers to try Premium E30. In return for every gallon sold, GLE donated 30 cents to the local Boys and Girl Club, up to $50,000.
At the same time, Glacial Lakes Energy shared testimonials from drivers who tried Premium E30. "We (GLE) can talk all day long, but if your neighbor says that had a good experience, that carries weight," Seurer says.
Today, consumption of E30 is up by 600 percent in Watertown.
During the 2018 South Dakota Farmers Union State Convention in Pierre, held Nov. 29-30, three college-bound youth were awarded scholarships.
SDFU annually gives recognition to young people who commit to a South Dakota college, university, or technical institute, and whose parents are current members of the Union.
Rachael Haigh-Blume, South Dakota Farmers Union Education Director, says, "Farmers Union starts investing in youth at age 5 and that investment is never ending as they progress through their education. We are excited for our youth as they transition into the next chapter and are thankful to continue our support for their future."
This year, the Leadership Scholarship and the Cooperative Scholarship, both $500, were awarded to Justin Goetz and Caleb Nugteren, respectively. The $500 Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Cassidy Keller.
South Dakota Farmers Union President Doug Sombke adds, "Supporting the future education of our rural youth is key to the future of our rural communities."
Caleb Nugteren Cooperative Scholarship: Canistota, S.D. ~ McCook County ~ District II; Son of Darin & Lisa Nugteren. Future Plans: Attend BlackHills State University, major undecided.
Cassidy Keller Memorial Scholarship: Canistota, S.D. ~ McCook County ~ District II; Daughter of Chad & Mandy Keller. Future Plans: Attend a post-secondary institution majoring in Nursing.
Justin Goetz Leadership Scholarship: Selby, S.D. ~ Walworth County ~ District VII; Son of Trent Goetz and Patricia Pudwill. Future Plans: Attend a post- secondary institution majoring in political science and economics.
One-year-old grandson Carter Schnabel climbs onto Cheryl Dethlefsen's lap just minutes after the Aurora County Farmers Union Education Director received the 2018 Minnie Lovinger Award for her years of dedicated service to the grassroots organization's educational programming.
"I enjoy helping kids learn things about animals, farming and cooperatives," explains Dethlefsen on why she dedicates time each year to helping organize county camps. "A lot of the kids are town kids and don't understand everything about farming life. I want them to know a cow is more than meat and what the byproducts are. I don't want our kids growing up thinking meat comes from a grocery store."
Growing up on a farm near Woonsocket, Dethlefsen's parents were active Farmers Union members. Her mom, Pat Larson Carsrud, has served as an Education Director for 35 years."I have been involved in Farmers Union camps since I was five or six. 4-H and Farmers Union were the two main things we were involved in," Dethlefsen says. "All four of my kids have received their Torchbearer Award, and made lifelong friends through Farmers Union Camps."
She adds that her four children, Jared Hettinger, Gina Schnabel, Jackie Lindeman and Abby Dethlefsen, all gained confidence and developed public speaking skills by attending camps.
More about Minnie Lovinger Award Established in 2004, the South Dakota Farmers Union Foundation instituted the Minnie Lovinger Award in recognition of the founder of all Farmers Union education programs.
Minnie Lovinger passed away 70 years ago, but not before she laid the foundation for all subsequent Farmers Union education efforts. As historian Lyn Oyos wrote in his history of South Dakota Farmers Union, Minnie Lovinger "snatched the thorny chance and broke the trail that others followed. Her soul has never left them in their sowing and reaping."
This award is given to individuals who have made great contributions to the success and the longevity of the South Dakota Farmers Union youth program.
SDFU Education Director Rachel Haigh-Blume presents Cheryl Dethlefsen, Aurora County Farmers Union Education Director, with the 2018 Minnie Lovinger Award for her years of dedicated service to the grassroots organization's educational programming.
Suicides among South Dakotans are on the rise, and farmers and ranchers are not immune.
"What is happening to producers is very serious," says Andrea Bjornestad, Sout Dakota State University Assistant Professor & SDSU Extension Mental Health Specialist, during her presentation to family farmers and ranchers attending the 2018 South Dakota Farmers Union State Convention.
She referenced 2017 data showing 192 South Dakotans committed suicide. And, although the state does not keep statistics on the careers of victims, due to the rural nature of our state, it is assumed that many of the 192 victims live in rural communities and may work in agriculture.
The reason the numbers are up? Bjornestad explained there are quite a few factors including chronic stress, limited access to mental health support and isolation.
"Agriculture sustains one of the highest mortality rates from chronic stress," Bjornestad says. "Suicide among farmers and ranchers is an international concern."
To prove this point, she showed the following data: * Australian farmers die by suicide every four days. * One farmer per week takes his or her own life in the United Kingdom. * One farmer dies by suicide every two days in France. * More than 270,000 farmers have died by suicide since 1995 in India.