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Posts tagged: biofuels

Secretary’s Column: Biofuels Hold Unlimited Opportunity to Grow the Rural Economy

At USDA, we’ve made record efforts in the past four years to support homegrown energy.  This year, we’re looking ahead to a promising future for biofuels.

Biofuels have already contributed a great deal to our economy, to our energy security and to the bottom line on our farms and ranches.  Today we’re taking steps to strengthen the biofuels industry and helping innovate the next generation of advanced biofuels.

For example, we’ve invested more than $320 million into biofuels research to help accelerate the development of technology needed to take the next big steps. Read more »

Finding ‘Gold’ in Bug Bellies

Almost three years ago, two biology professors at Delta State University in Mississippi brainstormed how to give science undergraduates research experience in microbiology and entomology.

They hit upon the idea of searching for “science gold” in the bellies of bugs.

Professors Tanya McKinney and Ellen Green received $40,000 through a grant for under-represented colleges from the U.S. Forest Service to help with the project. As part of their research experience, students in the program search the guts of beetle larvae to discover new cellulases, enzymes that break down cellulose, an organic compound that helps make plant cell walls rigid.

Read more »

Under Secretary Says Renewable Fuels Help Build a Stronger Rural Economy and a More Secure Energy Future

Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager describes Secretary Vilsack’s “All of the Above” energy strategy during the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit. USDA photo.

Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager describes Secretary Vilsack’s “All of the Above” energy strategy during the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit. USDA photo.

A mid-winter snow storm did not stop more than 200 participants from attending the 7th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit and Trade Show held January 30th in Des Moines.

During Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager’s presentation it was clear that everyone in attendance was extremely focused on helping identify ways the renewable fuels industry can continue to create economic opportunities in rural America. At the summit Mr. Tonsager also had the opportunity to hear Tom Buis with Growth Energy give a detailed overview of the ethanol industry and its many positive impacts throughout our country. Read more »

USDA Boosts Innovation as a Pathway to Jobs and a Rural Biobased Economy

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack tours Renmatix's state-of-the-art bioindustrial facility at Renmatix headquarters in King of Prussia, PA on Friday, Jan. 11, 2013, and to commission the company’s new multiple-feedstock processing BioFlex Conversion Unit. Photo property of Renmatix.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack tours Renmatix's state-of-the-art bioindustrial facility at Renmatix headquarters in King of Prussia, PA on Friday, Jan. 11, 2013, and to commission the company’s new multiple-feedstock processing BioFlex Conversion Unit. Photo property of Renmatix.

If you want proof that rural America is a land of limitless opportunity, go to King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

Last week I accompanied Secretary Vilsack as he toured a state-of-the-art bioindustrial facility in Pennsylvania that converts multiple feedstocks into cellulosic sugars.  The plant, operated by Renmatix, will test and convert a range of non-food plant materials through a proprietary process.  The goal is to move forward in development of next-generation renewable energy and high value bio-based alternatives to petroleum-based products.  It is a goal that bears enormous promise for rural America, potentially creating many thousands of jobs, untold economic activity and new markets. Read more »

Energy Advisor Says a Host of Factors Affect Food Prices

Rob Green’s recent Wall Street Journal op-ed “The cause of higher grocery bills isn’t the drought. It’s the failed federal ethanol policy” fails to take into consideration a host of factors, other than demand for corn, that affect food prices.

In the domestic and global markets commodity, labor, transportation, energy costs, processing, and marketing costs all contribute to what we pay for food in our local grocery store or restaurant. In some cases, factors such as higher oil prices affect one or more of these underlying costs producing higher domestic and world food prices. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: The Millions of Jobs Supported by Rural America

Every day I am reminded of the many ways in which the work of rural America impacts all of us. Rural America provides us with a clean environment, opportunities to get outdoors, greater energy security, and a safe and abundant food supply that’s the envy of the world. From our smallest towns to our biggest cities, work ongoing today in rural America has a tremendously positive effect for the United States.

Perhaps most important, rural America is driving job growth across our nation.

Last year, the agriculture sector and its related industries directly provided more than 16 million American jobs, the highest number since 2008. Many of these jobs are in rural America – while other agriculture-related jobs, from food manufacturing to textile work, are supporting millions of families in our cities. Read more »