Corn growers press on for Ont. ethanol mandate

Ontario’s corn growers plan to keep pressing the province to legislate higher ethanol content in gasoline, whether in 2010 or sometime in the farther future.

Provincial Energy Minister George Smitherman told Ontario media on Sept. 26 that the province has officially dropped its plan to boost mandatory ethanol content in gasoline to 10 per cent in 2010.

Smitherman told reporters that the province is not backing away from ethanol as an alternative fuel but plans instead to focus its efforts on reducing vehicles’ carbon footprint by 10 per cent by 2020, by working to cut the carbon content in fuels.

Nevertheless, the Ontario Corn Producers’ Association (OCPA) said in a release Friday that it “remains committed to working with the provincial government to set and achieve higher targets as the industry continues to evolve.”

“We recognize that there have been some challenges achieving the five per cent ethanol blend targets and we accept the province’s decision at this time,” OCPA director Don Kenny said in the release, referring to the province’s current ethanol content regulations.

Ontario farmers grow most of Canada’s grain corn, for use in food processing, feed and ethanol.

“We are very committed to working with the government to increase targets at a more acceptable timeline that will continue to allow growth in this very important market for corn farmers,” said Kenny, who farms at Stittsville, southwest of Ottawa.

The OCPA urged the province in July to clarify its position on the 10 per cent target, after Premier Dalton McGuinty was quoted in news reports saying the province was rethinking its plans.

Supplying corn to help meet the province’s food and fuel needs wouldn’t be an issue, the OCPA said at that time, stating it does not expect a corn shortage in that province and Ontario farmers are now exporting more corn than they have in the last five years.

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