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Opening Statements

Opening Statement: Republican Leader Michelle Fischbach Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit Subcommittee Hearing: “A Look at the Renewable Economy in Rural America”

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and good morning. I’m Michelle Fischbach from Minnesota’s 7th District, and the ranking member of the CEEC Subcommittee. Thank you all for taking the time to be here today. Like many of my colleagues here, I represent an extremely rural, ag-based district. We are among the top ag-producing districts in the nation and are responsible for nearly half of Minnesota’s agricultural sales. Minnesota and my district also play a key role in renewable energy. Minnesota farmers care deeply about conservation and the environment and are innovators in that area, being the first state to implement E10 and B20 mandates. My district is home to eight biofuel plants, and we are top producers in corn and soybeans that provide feedstocks for these plants. Discussions of lower carbon emissions must include and enhance the use of biofuels. It is an existing proven fuel source and must be part of the conversation.

Since taking office, I have spent a lot of time traveling across my district. I’ve met with local officials, businessowners, farmers, families, and many others. One thing I can tell you is that rural America is facing many challenges right now, made all the more evident by COVID-19. Challenges, like limited access to capital, worker and skill shortages, aging infrastructure, limited access to broadband, and diminished access to healthcare services. We should be doing everything we can to help these ag economies thrive and should be wary of taking actions that will create more challenges than opportunities. I’m a little concerned about some efforts by the majority that don’t recognize that biofuels have an important share of the role in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. Combines cannot run on electricity or wind or solar. There remains an important role for liquid fuels to play in our communities.

I would also like to have conversation about biproducts of agricultural commodities. I’m glad to see panelists that can speak to the work they are doing to diversify the value-add of products coming from the farm as a vehicle for rural development. So, I’m interested in learning more in that regard.

Taking care of our rural communities and ensuring they have what they need to thrive benefits the ag economy, but it also benefits the rest of the country. If we can help meet those needs together, it’s all of our constituents who will reap the benefits.

I join the Chairman in welcoming all of our witnesses.  We appreciate your time and I’m looking forward to today’s discussion. Thank you, Mr. Chair.