Iowa could be Battleground Ethanol in 2016 (via Des Moines Register)

Iowa will be Battleground Ethanol in the 2016 presidential race if a couple of seasoned political strategists have their way.

Their underlying message: Candidates who don’t support a federal renewable fuels rule have a history of losing races in corn-intense Iowa.

A coalition of Iowans led by Democrat Derek Eadon and Republican Eric Branstad intends to spend the next few months bringing presidential hopefuls up to speed on why they believe the Renewable Fuel Standard is crucial to the economy in Iowa and the nation. After that, they’ll make sure Iowa voters know which side each candidate has taken.

Their new nonprofit political organization, America’s Renewable Future, will make a multimillion-dollar push backed by some of Iowa’s top elected officials and influencers in the agriculture world, they said.

“We’re going to put in that tireless work that a political campaign does, except the RFS is our candidate,” Branstad told The Des Moines Register in an interview Wednesday.

A news conference to announce the campaign is set for 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the Iowa Capitol rotunda.

What’s at issue: the future of a federal mandate specifying how much biofuel should be mixed into the country’s motor fuel supply. It has nothing to do with subsidies; it’s a matter of market access, advocates say. Ethanol and gasoline compete for a place in cars’ gas tanks. Ethanol is made primarily from corn, and biodiesel is made from soybeans and other feedstocks.

Without the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency mandate, the petroleum industry would lock the renewable fuels industry out of the market, supporters say. That would reduce consumer choice, drive up gas prices, depress corn prices, increase the country’s reliance on foreign oil, and increase carbon emissions that can harm the environment, they say.

But the oil and restaurant industries have pushed back hard, arguing the ethanol mandate drives up gas prices and food prices.

“The next president is going to have a lot of say over the RFS and what the EPA does,” said Branstad, who is one of Gov. Terry Branstad’s sons.

Eadon and Eric Branstad argued that candidates who support the RFS tend to do well in Iowa. Republicans Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, who both favored it, finished at the top of the Iowa caucuses in 2012, while those who opposed it didn’t fare as well, including Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann.

In 2008, failed Republican presidential candidate John McCain called ethanol “a joke.” In contrast, Democrat Barack Obama backed the fuel standard, then carried Iowa in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. The only Iowa survey Obama filled out during the 2012 race was the Iowa Corngrowers’ survey, which gave him an A rating on his RFS answers, said Eadon, who was state director for Obama’s 2012 campaign.

Organizers of America’s Renewable Future said they realize that just because a candidate pledges support for the renewable fuel standard doesn’t mean he or she will remain loyal once elected. The Obama administration in late 2013 proposed lower volume requirements for biofuels; no final decision has been made.

“Just the fact that Obama has been talking about lowering the RFS has already hurt the Iowa economy,” Eadon said. Corn prices are lower now than when the Renewable Fuel Standard was passed in 2007.

A bipartisan team is co-chairing America’s Renewable Future: former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge, a Democrat; former state Rep. Annette Sweeney, a Republican; and Bill Couser, president of Couser Cattle Company and co-founder of Lincolnway Energy.

The effort is being financed by the Iowa Corn Growers Association, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy and other partners, organizers said.

RDL & Associates Service Offering: Private Coaching

In addition to the broad range of consulting and strategic services offered by RDL & Associates, private coaching is available to individuals or organizations who seek intensive training in the art of lobbying, and the utilization of digital media platforms. Participants will benefit from Dave Ladd’s 20+ years in and around the policy and political process in Washington, D.C., as well as the state and local levels.  Clients will gain valuable insight into strategies and tactics for effectively delivering their message.

Radio Interview: Opening Days of the 114th Congress

Dave Ladd, President of RDL & Associates, was recently a guest of KLTF Farm Director Scott Colombe to discusses issues of interest to the agriculture sector during the opening days of the 114th Congress and the Minnesota Legislature.

Topics include; trade promotion authority, transportation and the Highway Trust Fund, the Endangered Species Act, regulatory reform and GMO labeling.

RDL & Associates Service Offering: Coalition Building and Grassroots Mobilization

Lobbying alone cannot ensure that your message will be heard in Washington, D.C. or the State Capitol. A broad-based demonstration of public support through grassroots mobilization is a key component of a successful campaign. In the modern legislative environment, businesses and organizations need to adapt and be more effective in getting voters and local citizens to advocate issues to Congress and the Administration on their behalf.

RDL & Associates political insight and experience in coalition building and grassroots mobilization is unrivaled by any other firm. We specialize in the development of themes and messages capable of building active public awareness of your efforts. RDL & Associates can utilize our strategic alliances to build coalitions, mobilize stakeholders and engage like-minded individuals, and gain earned media. Our goal is to identify targets and to communicate with them directly and effectively to ensure our clients’ success.

For additional information, please contact Dave Ladd at (651) 247-5458 or at

Farms big and small flock to new dairy program (via Agri-Pulse Communications)

Big farms in California, Idaho and Texas enrolled in a new dairy program that is proving to have a national appeal that its predecessor lacked because of payment limits.

In California, by far the nation’s largest producer of milk, 69 percent of the state’s 1,515 farms enrolled in the new Margin Protection Program (MPP), according to Agriculture Department data.

MPP doesn’t have the payment caps of the program it replaced, the Milk Income Loss Contract program, which was targeted toward smaller operations than the ones that dominate production in the West.

Some 66 percent of the farms in Idaho, which ranks No. 4 in total production, enrolled in MPP, while 71 percent of the operations in No. 6 Texas did.

Nationwide, slightly more than half, or about 23,800, of the nation’s 47,273 farms enrolled in the program.

The appeal to large farms in western states was not surprising. “By removing the production cap it allows the larger farms to be more represented by their share of production,” said John Newton, an economist at the University of Illinois.

He said the signup rate nationwide was “pretty exceptional” given that during much of the signup period there was

Farms are still unlikely to receive payments at the basic level of coverage, which is essentially free, requiring only a $100 administrative fee. The basic coverage level pays off only when the margin between milk prices and feed costs is less than $4 per hundred pounds.  USDA currently expects the price to stay above $6 this year.

Fifty-five percent of farms nationwide opted for higher levels of coverage, which come with premiums. Thirty-five percent of California producers chose the buy-up coverage.

Overall signup rates for MPP were notably lower in some Midwest and Northeast states, but those regions have far more farms, typically smaller those in the West.

Wisconsin, which ranks second to California in total production, has 54 percent of its total farms enrolled in MPP, or 5,864 producers, the most of any state.

In New York, which ranks No. 3 in total milk production, 48 percent of the farms enrolled, or 2,414. Another 2,160 farms enrolled from Pennsylvania, which ranks fifth in milk production. Those operations represent 30 percent of Pennsylvania’s dairy farms.

California produced 41 billion pounds of milk in 2013, or about 27 million pounds per farm. Wisconsin’s 10,860 farms produced 27.6 billion pounds, or about 2.5 million pounds per operation. Payments under the old MILC program were limited to less than 3 million pounds of a farmers’ production.

RDL & Associates Service Offering: Strategic Counsel and Crisis Management

During the most challenging and sensitive business circumstances, how an organization responds often governs the extent of damage to its reputation. RDL & Associates provide strategic and tactical counsel to corporations, small business, and ad hoc organizations who would like to increase or alter their profile or who need honest, informed guidance in solving a specific political or public perception issue.

For additional information, please contact Dave Ladd at (651) 247-5458 or at

RDL & Associates Service Offering: Government Relations

RDL & Associates is exceptionally skilled at providing clients with advice on how to navigate the bureaucracy in Washington, D.C., as well as at the state and local levels of government.

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Al-Corn Clean Fuel: Frequently Asked Questions

What is Al-Corn Clean Fuel?

Founded in 1994, Al-Corn Clean Fuel is a farmer-owned ethanol production cooperative located in Claremont, MN. The cooperative was created when depressed corn prices drove local farmers to seek new opportunities to add value to their corn crop.

What is the business model of Al-Corn Clean Fuel?

Similar to other cooperatives, members of Al-Corn Clean Fuel invest financially but also agree to deliver a quantity of corn determined by their investment in the business. This “corn commitment” has been a key contributor to success of the cooperative.

How much ethanol does Al-Corn Clean Fuel produce on an annual basis?

Annually, Al-Corn Clean Fuel grinds 17.5 million bushels of corn and produces 50 million gallons of ethanol.

What co-products are produced by Al-Corn Clean Fuel?

The Claremont plant produces 132,000 tons of high protein livestock feed, 12 million pounds of corn oil and 70,000 tons of beverage grade carbon dioxide

The majority of these products are consumed by refiners, livestock feeders, meat packers and biodiesel producers throughout Minnesota.

What allows Al-Corn Clean Fuel to add value for members?

Al-Corn Clean Fuel’s unique cooperative model has allowed for development of a firm business foundation based on success, a strong cash position and investments that add value for members and their communities and resulted in competitive returns.

Has Al-Corn Clean Fuel been successful in reducing energy Consumption?

Al-Corn Clean Fuel continues to utilize the best available control technologies in order to reduce energy consumption and production costs while at the same time increasing efficiencies and reducing emissions.

The Al-Corn plant has reduced water consumption to less than 2.4 gallons of water per gallon of ethanol and was the first plant to achieve “zero liquid discharge”. In addition, energy conservation efforts have reduced the plant’s energy use by more than 35% compared to the original plant design.

For additional information regarding Al-Corn Clean Fuel, please contact Randall Doyal at or visit