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Thursday, March 05, 2015

The campaign season has started ... again.

We just finished taping the interview with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad for the Iowa Caucuses MOOC course. He was there at the beginning of the Iowa Caucuses. I WAS THERE AT THE beginning too! We reminisced.

His official ceremonial office where we taped is fabulous as you can see. (Yes I know the picture is running off the edge but you need to see it this size!)


The interview was really wonderful because the governor loves and believes in the Iowa caucuses. It showed in his enthusiasm and excitement at reminiscing. It will be prominent in the FREE Internet course I'm teaching starting September 1. YOU can sign up for it and reserve a free spot at:

This is also the weekend when the Agricultural Summit takes place in Des Moines. A large group of Republican presidential potential candidates will get on the stage and each talk for 20 minutes about agriculture.

The meeting is actually very important since Ag is a HUGE part of the American economy. Corn, ethanol, soy beans, biodiesel, wind power (which is ag because the turbines sit on farmland) are all on the agenda.

Crucial to all of this are the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), a mandate that requires a certain amount of the largely corn-based fuel to be blended into the gasoline. That was established to reduce US dependence on imported oil. It was also seen as a way to include a "cleaner" fuel - ethanol - to gasoline.

Corn growers increased their acreage. Investors, many local farmers, put their money into ethanol plants which are very expensive. The DuPont biofuels plant in Nevada, Iowa will cost $200 million, and produce 30 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels. Expected to be completed in mid-2014, the new facility produce cellulosic ethanol from corn stover (what's left over after harvesting and combining corn.".

I also saw a report that "renewable fuels support 852,000 Jobs and $46 billion in wages for America’s workers."

If the federal RFS mandate is reduced or eliminated  the demand for biofuels (ethanol) and for corn will sharply decline. Already corn prices are half of what they were a year ago and companies such as John Deere which builds agricultural machinery, has already begun major layoffs.

SO, the Republican contenders for the White House (no Democrats have accepted the invitation to the summit) will be scrutinized for their knowledge about and position on various agricultural policies.

The Agriculture Summit is being sponsored by Republican Party patron Bruce Rastetter who is a major force in farming and in renewable fuels.

On my way out of the State House in Des Moines I took a picture of the rotunda (below). If you have never been you MUST go to the State Capitol and marvel over its splendor. The best museums in the world have nothing over this architectural marvel. 



 



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