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Release No. 0301.05 Contact: USDA Press Office (202) 720-4623 - page 11 / 53





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Minnesota Farmers Union.  The question we have about the unintended consequences of actions the federal government might take, on CAFTA Mr. Secretary -- and we thank you for being here -- on CAFTA we have fears that the unintended consequences of CAFTA with (recording gap) -- ethanol.  We need American ethanol to stop the dependence on foreign oil, and this has to be not Latin America, not Central America, and not Brazilian ethanol.  We think that's terribly important.   There's 14 ethanol plants in this state.  I had a major role in some of the ethanol legislations along with Rep. Gutknecht, one of my former colleagues up there on the stage.  We have a stake in all of these communities to make sure that the ethanol industry is sound and safe and American.  Thank you. [Applause.] MODERATOR:  Thank you very much, and Mr. Secretary obviously ethanol is a topic you're very involved in.  Very involved in. SEC. JOHANNS:  I'm going to violate my own rule not to say very much here, but when it comes to ethanol the House and the Senate just took a major step forward in passing an Energy Bill. [Applause.] And these gentlemen to my right may want to offer a comment, but it raised the renewable fuel standard to 7.5 billion gallons.  We believe that is going to have a very, very positive impact.  And for a state that again really has led the nation in ethanol and has every reason to believe it can lead the nation in other renewable fuels, this is good news.  And so Congressman, I don't know if you have anything you'd like to offer, but good work by the House and the Senate. REP. GUTKNECHT:  I will say this, and I don't want to get into so much the other side of that debate because we've already had that debate and we're going to have to move on.  But I think perhaps one of the best stories for agriculture, and I've been spending the day with the Secretary and we've talked a lot about renewable fuels, and in many respects I think this is a story that's going to get better and better and better for American farmers.  It's going to get better for our environment. It's going to get better for our balance of trade.

           And somebody talked about Rural Development.  There are very few things that are going to do more for our rural economy than increasing the usage of renewable fuels.  I'm also the vice chairman of the House Science Committee, and two weeks ago we had four top energy experts come and testify before the House Science Committee about renewable fuels.  And when it was my turn to ask a question I asked a pretty simple one and I was surprised by the answers.

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