In the fast paced technology world there are a lot of firsts coming at us all the time. But if you had told me that I’d be present for the first ever USDA Virtual Office Hours on April 5, 2012, in our 150th year, I assure you I never would have believed you. The event allowed USDA, a department President Lincoln referred to as the People’s Department –– to reach hundreds of thousands of people, 140 characters at a time. What really struck me was how many insightful questions came in about energy and USDA, and, in particular, one that was asked on our Facebook page shortly before the hour long chat.
This question got right at the heart of the ethanol energy balance issue. A 2008 report from USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist shows that today, with improved ethanol production techniques, for every unit of energy going into ethanol production over 2 units of energy comes out. This demonstrates our domestic energy production is not stagnant – as our domestic oil and gas production hits record highs our domestic biofuels production is also making records and lowering gas prices.
I’m so glad that the Secretary and I had the opportunity to sit down and have this virtual conversation with all of you. There is so much going on in domestic energy production and so much potential for growth that it is truly amazing – and we are doing it 140 characters at a time.