Yesterday it was my privilege to address those attending the Biomass 2010 Conference, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. The Obama Administration is committed to fighting the effects of climate change while supporting farmers and ranchers, and promoting sustainable economic growth. My speech centered on opportunities available to farmers and ranchers as a result of biofuel production.
Our budget at USDA contains billions of dollars allocated to build on new energy and environmental opportunities. As part of this effort, President Obama issued the “Growing America’s Fuel” report, which lays out the Administration’s strategy to advance development and commercialization of a sustainable industry which grows and produces second and third generation biofuels while continuing to support first generation producers. Congress has mandated that the U.S. produce 36 billion gallons of biofuel annually by 2022 and we estimate that by then farmer’s incomes will increase by $13 billion annually. The caveat is that only 15 billion gallons of the yearly quota can come from corn ethanol.
Much of the new biofuel will be produced from an array of sources including grasses, cane, sorghum, oil seeds, algae and woody biomass. To encourage production from these new sources, we are working to mitigate risk and get capital flowing. One model that shows great promise is the so called “New Generation Cooperative” which is financed through sale of delivery rights: a member’s right to deliver a specific amount of a commodity to the cooperative.
As I said to conference members, we must continue to support development of new technology and demonstrate to lenders the importance of transitioning to advanced biofuels. Our responsibility is clear: We will support the entrepreneurs that have the drive to compete in the marketplace and build a new energy future for America.
To read more about the Under Secretary’s views on renewable energy, see the article on page 2 of Rural Cooperatives Magazine.
Dallas Tonsager is Under Secretary for Rural Development
USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager addresses a biomass conference sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy
Photos by Stephen Thompson, USDA