Congressman Roger Marshall proudly represents 63 counties across central, western, and northern Kansas. With numerous biofuel plants in his district, the Congressman has been actively engaged in advancing the future of biofuels.
We talked with Rep. Marshall about the significance of the biofuel industry in Kansas and how we can continue to build out the infrastructure needed to offer higher blends at the pump.
Can you tell our readers a little about yourself?
I currently serve as the Congressman for Kansas’ Big 1st District. In Washington, I sit on the House Agriculture Committee as well as the Science, Space and Technology Committee. I am also the co-chair of the House Biofuels Caucus and am proud to say that I have visited all 10 biofuel plants in Kansas and have been an advocate for the biofuels industry within my district, state and across the country.
My wife, Laina, and I have been married for 36 years and are the proud parents of four children and two grandchildren. I am a fifth generation farm kid, with 100-year-old farms on both sides of my family. After graduating from Butler County Community College, I received my bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University and my Medical Doctorate from the University of Kansas.
I served in the Army Reserve for seven years, training medical units for deployment to the Middle East. I moved to Great Bend, Kansas, and practiced medicine there for more than 25 years. During that time I also got involved in production agriculture, community development and community banking.
Faith, family and community continue to be pillars of my life. My wife and I are active in our church and I have coached numerous community and youth sports teams over the years. I am a proud Rotarian, having served as a District Governor and as a part of many mission trips to help those in need around the world. I also have a passion for the outdoors and spend as much time as possible at my family’s farm near the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge and Cheyenne Bottoms.
In an effort to support emergency efforts for Covid-19 you spent some time on the front lines. Can you tell us a little more about that experience?
As a physician, I felt it was important to volunteer my time and training to fighting this pandemic. I volunteered in two different settings: a COVID clinic in Kansas City, Kansas, and a rural hospital in Liberal, Kansas. During both experiences I worked alongside hard working, empathetic and selfless health care workers who were putting their lives on the line every day to serve others.
During my visit to Southwest Kansas, I saw some of the most comprehensive community testing efforts in the country. Through aggressive testing, cooperation among the public and private sectors and great support from the federal government, communities in Southwest Kansas were able to not only slow the curve — they took the top right off it.
My volunteer experiences were both humbling and informative. As a member of Congress, it is my job to ensure that our health care providers have the resources they need to continue to help their patients by providing access to proper equipment and testing.
As a fifth generation farm kid, why is the biofuels industry important to you and the state of Kansas?
I consider myself very lucky to have experiences in production agriculture – from my family’s farm to the El Dorado Sale Barn, I was raised with an appreciation for farmers and ranchers and carry that appreciation with me now as a member of Congress. Today the agriculture industry accounts for nearly 60% of my state’s economic output, and nearly 25% of Kansas’ corn is used for biofuel production. Outside of creating demand for our corn and other crops, biofuel plants are some of the largest employers in the communities in which they are located and provide high-paying, quality jobs across rural Kansas.
But the ethanol industry is more than jobs; it also provides an environmentally friendly fuel option for Kansas drivers that directly supports Kansas farmers.
The biofuels industry is working to build out the infrastructure needed to offer higher blends at the pump. How have you supported this effort, and do you think E15 will become the new E10?
Yes, I am confident that once E15 becomes more readily available across the state, more drivers will see the benefits of a higher blend fuel that is not only cleaner burning but also less expensive than traditional fuels.
Since coming to Congress, I have advocated for the growth of the ethanol industry – including year-round E15, support for the USDA’s Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program, as well as the continued build out of infrastructure to deliver E15 and higher blends to more Kansas communities. I recently introduced H.R. 6671, the Clean Fuels Deployment Act, which would establish a grant program to help in the deployment of infrastructure that would increase the use of higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel across the country.
If you could share one last message with our readers who are invested in the future of Agriculture, what would that message be?
The agriculture industry is alive and well, and today’s farmers and ranchers are some of the most innovative and resourceful business owners I have ever seen. Farmers have weathered some difficult times but I still see optimism and hope for the future when I meet with our producers and farm families, many of which have been farming for their entire lives and hope to leave their farms for the next generation.