FARM SCIENCE REVIEW: Taft: Ohio needs an ethanol plant


LONDON, Ohio – Ethanol production in Ohio moved closer to reality last week, as Ohio Gov. Bob Taft pledged to push legislation that would help clear the way for a plant to be built in the Buckeye State.

Speaking at the Farm Science Review Sept. 18, Taft said Ohio is one of the top ethanol-consuming states and yet no ethanol is produced in the state.

“That needs to change,” Taft declared. “I am committed to opening a new age ethanol co-op here in Ohio. It’s the right thing for Ohio.”

The governor said he plans to support legislation that includes funding for such a co-op through infrastructure support, low-interest and tax-free bonds, machinery tax credits and water development assistance.

Taft also said legislation needs to revise the existing Air Quality Development Authority to allow it to provide special funding and tax reductions.

He also said any successful legislation should include targeted incentives, such as tax credits for investor-producers providing corn to that plant.

That legislation foundation has to come before ethanol production can move forward, Taft said. “You have to have a climate for that investment to occur. We have to prime the pump.”

He hopes to see legislation moving by the end of this year or the beginning of 2002.

A “new age” cooperative is one operated by a smaller group of producer-members. The farmers take more risk in a larger equity position, but receive more opportunity for profit if the venture succeeds. One Minnesota co-op returned $1.50 per bushel back to its farmer-members above commodity market returns.

Domestic fuel. Taft’s words were echoed by U.S. Sen. George Voinovich, who sees ethanol production as a national security issue as well. “We can no longer be reliant on that OPEC cartel.”

Voinovich said there are several options the United States has to increase its energy self-sufficiency. “We’ve got to make sure ethanol is a part of that.”

‘We are at war.’ Voinovich had somber words for the crowd gathering just one week after the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington D.C.

“All of us know that what happened last week will change our lives forever,” Voinovich said.

Calling terrorism a “prelude to Armageddon,” Voinovich called this action “a holy war.”

“We are at war and it’s not going to be a war we will be able to win quickly,” he said. “We’re going to have to make some sacrifices in terms of our priorities.”

Voinovich was not afraid to voice his religious convictions to the crowd. “I think maybe as a country we’ve fallen away from Almighty God,” he said. “We need to get down on our knees and continue to ask God to bless our country.”

Keith Smith, director of OSU Extension, and his family sang “America the Beautiful” in a moving musical tribute just prior to the start of the luncheon hosted each year by Bob Moser, Ohio State vice president of agricultural administration and dean of the ag college. Moser is also vice president for outreach and engagement.

In addition to Taft and Voinovich, U.S. Rep. John Boehner and Ohio State University President Brit Kirwan addressed the luncheon crowd.


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