We have heard a lot about the importance of manufacturers during this election season, and as the head of a manufacturing business in Nebraska, I couldn’t agree more. But what many candidates – and voters – do not understand is how essential the strength of our agriculture sector is for manufacturing jobs as well.
For manufacturers of farm equipment like my company, CLAAS of America, our business’s fortunes rise and fall with the prosperity of American farmers. Our company manufactures combine and forage harvesters (among other products) in Omaha, Nebraska, where we support hundreds of good-paying manufacturing jobs. As chairman of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), I hear similar things from other colleagues throughout the industry about the conditions facing manufacturers and their customers.
That is why equipment manufacturers have a strong voice on agricultural issues, which includes our support for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). It is a mistake to think of the debate over the RFS as a provincial issue affecting only farmers and ethanol producers. In reality, protecting the RFS is of utmost importance to a number of manufacturers who depend on a strong and thriving agricultural economy.
The Renewable Fuel Standard is good policy. It reduces our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, helps cut net greenhouse gas emissions and generates tens of billions of dollars for our economy each year.
But ethanol production is not just a farmers’ issue; it supported almost 28,000 manufacturing jobs and generated over $2.75 billion for manufacturers in the United States just last year. Elected leaders who want to support manufacturing in America can do just that by protecting the RFS and ensuring that the government honors its statutory commitments to the RFS.
This June presents a great opportunity for the Obama administration to support manufacturers and agricultural producers when it issues the RVO requirements for 2017. The administration should heed the recent call by a bipartisan group of senators and restore those requirements to the levels intended by Congress.
Of course, the RFS is not the only way to promote a strong agricultural sector; policymakers need to make a lot of various smart decisions to ensure that America is supporting its farmers. But the RFS is still an important tool to both strengthen American farming and promote the next generation of biofuels.
That is why equipment manufacturers support a strong Renewable Fuel Standard: Because promoting ethanol is not just critical to the continued growth of our agricultural sector, it is also an important way our elected leaders can help manufacturers thrive.
Leif Magnusson is President of CLAAS Global Sales America Inc. and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.