In just a few days ACE members will set out to take part in our annual “fly-in” where we showcase to Members of Congress the grassroots strength and voice of the ethanol industry. Every advocacy/trade group in the country has a lobbyist – there’s nothing particularly special about that. What makes ACE unique and helps us effectively advocate for aggressive and progressive ethanol policies is that we have thousands of grassroots members who are willing to take the time to let their Members of Congress know why ethanol is important to them.
A handful of these advocates join us each year in DC for the
fly-in. During last year’s fly-in ACE
members Vivian Pappel (who owns a lab supply company in Nebraska), Rich Wiarda
(a South Dakota farmer and board member for an ethanol plant) and Bill Hejl (a
North Dakota farmer and former president of the World Association of Beet and
Cane Growers) and I met with several Members of Congress and their staff. Vivian, Bill, and Rich are pictured here with the Legislative Assistant in the office of Congressman Steve Kagen of Wisconsin.
Vivian said she had never “lobbied” Congress
before, but thanks to some help from her teammates, a briefing we did for her
and others prior to the Hill visits, and a few tips on effective lobbying – she
was a rock star, as were Rich and Bill.
For example, Vivian was able to impress upon Congress that
her laboratory is able to create new jobs when her ethanol plant customers are
doing well, and alternatively she faces the thankless proposition of cutting
jobs when her ethanol plant customers are hurting. It is one thing for a registered lobbyist to
tell a Member of Congress that ethanol creates jobs in rural America – it is
quite another for a business owner like Vivian to make that case.
Vivian’s story is the genuine grassroots narrative that is so compelling to Members of Congress. It is that sort of compelling ethanol story our members intend to convey on March 22-23 in DC, when we make our voices heard on issues such as VEETC reauthorization, blender pumps, and FFVs. There are still a few days remaining to sign up for the fly-in. Register or learn more at this link.
Posted by: Brian Jennings