Gutknecht talks farm bill, ethanol, corn

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 1, 2006

By Kari Lucin, staff writer

CLARKS GROVE &8212; Republican U.S. Rep. Gil Gutknecht emphasized the importance of corn, the ethanol industry and agriculture during a visit to the Keith and Jay Kuiters farm in rural Clarks Grove Thursday.

Gutknecht, who serves on the House Agriculture Committee, was on the agenda at the 34th annual Corn Variety Plot Field Day to speak about the upcoming 2007 farm bill.

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&8220;One of the questions we get asked is are we going to extend the farm bill,&8221; Gutknecht said.

&8220;And the answer to that is maybe. I don&8217;t think we can make our planning on whether or not we&8217;re going to extend that or not.&8221;

He emphasized the importance of cooperating with legislators from other agriculture-heavy states like California, which has 54 U.S. representatives.

&8220;We can&8217;t do anything in the House until we get 218 votes,&8221; Gutknecht said.

He related discussions with other politicians in which he said that though farmers represented

just two percent of the population, agriculture represented 16 percent of the nation&8217;s gross domestic product.

&8220;He is giving us the impression there is great potential out there,&8221; said Ellendale farmer Lisa Dunn afterward. &8220;It&8217;s not an easy business.&8221;

Gutknecht also asked those in the audience who had invested in the ethanol industry to raise their hands, before going on quickly to talk about his plans for the industry.

&8220;What I would do is trade the blender&8217;s credit for access to the market,&8221; Gutknecht said. &8220;Minnesota has done something that has opened up opportunities for the farmers, for value-added agriculture, and that is every gallon of gas in Minnesota has to be ten percent ethanol.&8221;

Gutknecht would like to see every gallon of gas in the United States is made of 10 percent ethanol, and believes it could be done by 2010. He cited the example of Brazil, which is completely energy-independent through its use of its own oil and bio-fuels.

&8220;Once we hit 10 percent, we can go 20 percent,&8221; Gutknecht said. &8220;I think in the next farm bill, it may well be the energy title that may be the single most important part of the farm bill.&8221;

Gutknecht has served in the House of Representatives for 12 years, and is running for his seat in the House again this year.

&8220;He said just what you want to hear. The guy does know what&8217;s going on,&8221; said Ellendale farmer Bob Wayne. &8220;Whether you agree with him or not, he&8217;s informed.&8221;