MCGA board member, ethanol industry veteran Dale Tolifson joins ACE Board

Written by Jonathan Eisenthal

Dale Tolifson, a director of Minnesota Corn Growers Association, accepted the role of MCGA liaison to American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) in early March. He replaces grower leader Jerry Demmer in that role.

Tolifson, 65, farms in Benson, Minnesota and is an ethanol industry veteran—he served as board chairman for Chippewa Valley Ethanol Cooperative, a farmer-owned ethanol company in Benson, for the first 13 years of its operation and retains a position as vice chairman of its board of directors.

“It’s going to be exciting working with ACE,” said Tolifson. “I am very familiar with what is happening in renewable energy, and with (Washington-based advocacy group) Growth Energy, so I hope I bring some useful tools to the table when ACE meets—there are so many issues out there that it’s really going to take a team effort to accomplish what needs to get done.”

American Coalition for Ethanol is a Brookings, South Dakota-based grassroots ethanol industry advocacy group. It’s most recent victory for ethanol was an ethanol blender pump cost share program just signed into law by South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds. It will set aside $1 million dollars of anticipated stimulus funds from the federal government to be used to offer partial funding to station owners that install pumps that will blend ethanol and gasoline in various amounts between E10 and E85, according to the choice of the motorist. The law allows up to $10,000 per installation.

ACE has 1,500 members nationwide that build a broad base of grassroots support for renewable energy. The group draws not only from ethanol producers, but also farmers and the folks that supply farmers’ needs, ethanol industry suppliers, and members of the public who are cheering on the farm-based energy movement. One of the early and ongoing supporters of ACE saw that ethanol would be a win-win for farm communities and themselves, by increasing their base of industrial customers—rural electric cooperatives.

ACE is also one of the key organizations pushing for a U.S. EPA waiver to allow the blending of 15 percent ethanol as a conventional gasoline blend.

Tolifson and his wife Sandra produce corn and soybeans, and they farm in partnership with Dale’s brother Keith. They have a strong orientation towards value-added agriculture as a natural part of the business of farming—Dale and Keith raised cattle for many years and remain active in renewable energy. Dale has also been involved with Swift County Corn and Soybean Growers Association and has augmented his farm operation revenue by working as a seed dealer.

“We can make the ethanol that America needs—we corn farmers,” said Tolifson. “One thing ethanol industry critics talk about is Indirect Land Use—with further study I believe this will be shown to not be nearly as much of a problem as stated. These ILUC studies don’t give us enough credit for the food that remains after the ethanol is made. We have studies that talk about DDGS as a high protein animal feed. The protein is the essential element for feeding cattle, so in some ways it is a superior product to the original corn. Certainly it works very well as a component of the feed, alongside the corn and soybean meal.

“I think one of our top agenda items for the ethanol industry is a need to look at expanding markets—we should pursue exports to Europe and other locations, and think about what the future holds for us.”

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