As a corn farmer’s son from a family farm in Northwest Minnesota, we are proud to be corn farmers and proud to provide food, fiber and fuel for Minnesota. I want to focus why our corn can provide fuel for Minnesota. The corn we grow is used to make a cleaner-burning, homegrown and renewable fuel called ethanol.
I am a senior at North Dakota State University, home of the Bison, majoring in Agriculture Economics and preparing for the upcoming “real world” next spring. Here at college, my fellow students do not know as much about ethanol fuel as I thought, even at a rural agriculture-based college.
So, fellow college students: As part of my duties as a Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) Student Agvocate, I feel it’s my job to help you learn more about ethanol.
To start, here are five reasons my fellow college students should love ethanol fuel. Hopefully, this post will encourage some conversations and provide a better idea of how ethanol affects you daily and why it’s beneficial.
- Ethanol is less expensive than gasoline. Yes fellow frugal students, it is less expensive. Less money out of pocket for filling your fuel tank. All regular unleaded fuel sold in the United States already contains 10 percent ethanol. Your fuel tank right now has ethanol in it. There’s also fuel blends to increase the percent of ethanol in your gasoline to lower the price even more. E85, which is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, is for use in flex-fuel vehicles and costs significantly less than regular unleaded. I personally used E85 in all of my summer travels, saving 40-60 cents per gallon.
- Ethanol improves air quality. MCGA works closely with the American Lung Association of Minnesota for this reason. Clean Air Choice is the motto for E85 ethanol fuel. According to the Department of Energy, the use of corn ethanol reduces harmful greenhouse gas emissions by 34 percent compared to gasoline, even when hypothetical land use emissions are considered.
- Increasing access to ethanol fuel. It was recently announced that a USDA grant will be combined with funding from a coalition that includes MCGA to install 625 new flex-fuel pumps in Minnesota. I personally use websites such as ethanolretailer.com, e85locator.net and mnfuels.com to find flex-fuel pumps on my travels. Always check your vehicle owner’s manual to know how high of a blend is acceptable. I also suggest using this website to find out if your vehicle is a flex-fuel vehicle.
- Supporting Minnesota grown products. It’s important to support the local economy. Ethanol is grown in Minnesota corn fields and produced at 21 20 ethanol plants in Minnesota. Ethanol production also provides many great co-products for livestock feed, corn sweeteners, and corn oil.
- Ethanol produced locally is less risky than dependency on foreign oil. We don’t drill for ethanol in environmentally sensitive areas or rely on countries that are not friendly to the United States like we do for oil. Minnesota’s ethanol industry provides thousands of local jobs and pays over $10.3 billion dollars in state and federal tax revenue that goes toward projects that benefit you.
I hope one of the five reasons will entice you to find a flex-fuel retailer and fill up with ethanol and support Minnesota’s corn farmers. Remember, if you’re not sure which stations offer higher ethanol blends, I encourage you to look up mnfuels.com
If you have additional questions, our MinnesotaCornerstone blog is an excellent resource.