The National Corn Growers Association characterized President George W. Bush’s call for increased production of biofuels as a bold and vital step toward U.S. energy security and one that that will strengthen agriculture.

NCGA First Vice-President Ron Litterer, who viewed the State of the Union Address from the White House Old Executive Office Building, said, “Corn growers have led the U.S. ethanol industry, and the president’s initiative builds on the corn-based ethanol platform that exists today.”

Bush re-affirmed his administration’s commitment to biofuels and called upon American farmers, scientists, industry and entrepreneurs to reduce U.S. gasoline usage by 20 percent in the next 10 years. Increasing the supply of renewable fuels to 35 billion gallons by 2017 is at the center of the president’s “20 in 10” initiative.

In 2006, the ethanol industry produced about 5 billions gallons of the renewable fuel displacing the gasoline derived from approximately 175 million barrels of oil. NCGA believes its 15 x 15 x 15 vision — 15 billion bushels of corn used to produce 15 billion gallons of ethanol by 2015 — will serve as a solid foundation and ideal model for a larger biofuels sector that utilizes a wide variety of feedstocks.

“Corn growers are eager to support this initiative while continuing to satisfy all of our markets,” Litterer said. “We see the corn ethanol industry as the foundation for a robust future industry that utilizes a wide variety of feedstocks based on geography, economics and agronomics.”

Litterer said the President’s vision sets in place a long-term public policy commitment that will benefit agriculture through greater investment in research, new seed traits and enzyme development, and improved plant efficiencies and technologies.