With trade policy decisions that hampered global crop marketing and bad weather wreaking havoc across the Corn Belt, 2019 was a year that many in rural America are glad to have in the rear-view mirror. As in 2018, 2019 brought on another year of reduced cash receipts, as a trade dispute with China continued to be felt, bolstered only in part by a series of direct farm program payments. In its own 2020 outlook, CoBank reports that rural America will continue to lag behind the rest of the country; GDP growth in rural counties has averaged nearly 1 percent less than in urban counties since 2014.
This is why growing the ethanol industry remains of vital importance to rural America. In 2019, there were 68,684 U.S. jobs directly associated with the ethanol industry, and it supported an additional 280,327 indirect and induced jobs across all sectors of the economy. The industry created $23.3 billion in household income and contributed $43 billion to the national Gross Domestic Product. Moreover, the ethanol industry spent over $27 billion on raw materials, inputs, and other goods and services.
Just as U.S. ethanol production has contributed to America’s energy independence, so too have many of those working at ethanol plants and supporting operations: Almost one-quarter of the men and women employed by the industry are veterans of the U.S. military, and we salute them.