USDA Rural Development and the Farm Service Agency held a Forum on Expanding the U.S. Biofuels Market on October 15 at the University of Maine at Presque Isle. I participated in this important Forum, which sought input from local biofuels producers and stakeholders on the USDA’s interim plan on how to develop a successful biofuels market. The plan outlines the development of a successful biofuels market capable of achieving the U.S. Renewable Fuels Standards mandate of producing and using 36 billion gallons or renewable transportation fuel per year by 2022.
Attendees shared their thoughts on how Maine biofuels producers can support this important initiative as well as concerns about resources in Maine needed to do so. The comments were recorded and will be shared with USDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Rural Development Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager.
One participant was Matt Bell, Owner of Northeast Pellets, LLC, in Ashland, Maine.
His mill suffered a fire last year, and with the help of a USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant to the Town of Ashland, the mill was rebuilt. It will produce over 40,000 tons annually, displacing five million gallons of fuel oil and expects to open operations for the winter heating season in 3 to 4 weeks.
USDA Rural Development will be front and center nationwide on supporting the
U.S. Renewable Fuels Standards mandate through a variety of programs it has in its arsenal. Programs offered by USDA Rural Development include the Section 9007 Rural Energy for America Program, the Section 9005 Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels Production Program, and the 9003 Biorefinery Assistance Program. Secretary Vilsack delivered a speech yesterday concerning renewable fuel development. Read the speech here.