PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The plan to increase the presence of ethanol at the pump offers an opportunity for local farmers and the greater economy.

Local farmers can likely get a higher price for their corn if the ethanol market ramps up, according to Peoria County Farm Bureau General Manager Patrick Kirchhofer.

Tuesday, President Joe Biden announced a waiver, allowing the widespread sale of E15, or gasoline blended with 15% ethanol. He said this step will hopefully lower gas prices by about 10 cents a gallon.

 “In the past, it’s been around a 10% blend. But, if we can increase it to 15%, which is a significant increase, that’s going to help demand for corn and for ethanol,” Kirchhofer said.

He made it clear that this move by the president will not shift the majority of the Midwest’s corn crop to ethanol; corn products will remain in abundance.

“We do get nearly three gallons of ethanol per bushel of corn. A bushel is around 56 pounds. But along with that three gallons of ethanol, we also get around 15-17 pounds of dried distillers grains (DDGs), and it’s a feed product for livestock,” he said.

The Peoria area has several ethanol plants, Kirchhofer said, and the high demand for corn will keep the price high, benefitting the local plants and farmers.

He said corn is selling for about $7 a bushel currently, a historically high price.

“That’s great for our local farmers because actually, they can probably receive a little bit of a higher price because they’ve got better markets to sell their product to,” he said.

In the process of making ethanol, Kirchhofer said, corn oil and dried distillers grain (DDG), used for livestock feed, is also produced.

“There are other byproducts besides ethanol that you’re getting,” he said, “which is a good benefit to our local farmers and our local economy.”

In addition, ethanol is a renewable fuel and clean-burning, he said.

While the nation’s auto manufacturers make a shift to all-electric vehicles, some argue ethanol can be a better way to lessen the price of gas and the auto industry’s carbon footprint.

“Auto manufacturers just need to continue to work to develop engines that use ethanol and renewable fuels efficiently,” he said.