We Have A Farm Bill!

baby-farm-billToday the U.S. Senate voted 68-32 to pass the 2014 farm bill after years of work by both Agriculture Committees. The House passed its version of a conference bill Jan. 29, and now the farm bill goes to President Obama’s desk.

The President is expected to sign the bill into law. The Agricultural Act of 2014 expands bio-energy production, supporting non-food based advanced biomass energy production such as cellulosic ethanol and woody biomass power. Specifically, the new Farm Bill funds biomass initiatives for the next five years:

  • Bio-Based Markets for $3 million per year
  • Biomass Research and Development for $3 million per year
  • Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Bio-Based Product Manufacturing Assistance Program for $100 million in 2014 and $50 million in 2015 and 2016
  • Biomass Crop Assistance Program for $25 million per year
  • Bioenergy for Advanced Biofuels for $15 million per year

“America’s farmers are core to the innovation that’s driven down our dependence on foreign oil – and this policy will keep them doing it, said Adam Monroe, regional president of the Americas for Novozymes, a global leader in bioenzyme production. There’s already enough concern about energy policy in America with EPA’s proposed revisions to the Renewable Fuel Standard. It’s a power sign to see policy certainty surrounding the energy programs in the farm bill. We thank Congress for taking action and we urge President Obama to swiftly sign it.

Growth Energy is also supportive of the Farm Bill with CEO Tom Buis commenting, “This legislation will encourage further development in biofuels by continuing to fund essential programs such as the Biorefinery Assistance Program, Rural Energy for America Program and Biomass Crop Assistance Program.

“The bottom line is that this bill helps create jobs in rural America and advances first and next generation biofuel production that will help improve our environment and reduce our dangerous addiction to foreign oil.

Farm Polices Impact on Precision Ag

nbb-14-kevin-rossMember of the National Corn Growers Association Board and director of Western Iowa Energy, LLC, Kevin Ross, chatted with Chuck after the opening session at the 2014 National Biodiesel Conference. They discuss farm policy and how precision agriculture technology has impacted his farming operation where he raises cattle and grows corn and soybeans.

Kevin shared that if we don’t move past what RFS has already provided then we become stuck and the innovation stops. He says everyone needs to do what they can to ensure the investments continue and technologies are utilized. He feels the government has given mixed signals and believes simple education on the issue could help.

“The Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) itself is vitally important to my operation at home and to my neighbors. Not just from the farming side, but also from the livestock side. Especially, operations like mine in western Iowa where we can utilize the fats and add value back to the livestock. I am not sure how many people know that its even possible. Let alone be done on an industrial scale. Agriculture is about value-added. Creating markets in those new economies within a broader ag industry is what it is all about.”

Kevin goes on to discuss what types of precision agriculture they have taken advantage of on his operation.

“On our farm it has been a fast ramp up of precision technology. Just a couple years ago on our own farm we’ve gone to auto steer. I couldn’t plant straight rows if I tried. We also use single row shut-offs and it has been a huge plus for us. Overall newer equipment is more efficient with yield monitors and data that we collect. We are going into a new soil data collection phase on our farm which is an entirely new way of doing it then before. We have made major advancement in the recent years and profitability in ag and RFS have really had a huge role in making that possible.”

You can listen to Chuck’s complete interview with Kevin here: Interview with Kevin Ross

2014 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Growing Use of Technology for Growers

nbb-14-frank-legnerCommodity groups across the country also took interest in the happenings at the recent National Biodiesel Conference. Frank Legner, Legner Farms is a member of the Illinois Soybean Association and attended the conference to relay the update on biodiesel to growers in Illinois. He talks about how he uses precision agriculture on his farm where they grow 50/50 soybeans and corn.

“With the high prices of commodities in the years previous farmers have used their capital in many different ways. Our farming operation decided to put our capital towards technology. Where we farm you could have about four different soil types on a piece of land and those soil types all have different productivity indexes that have been benchmarked from the University of Illinois. We use those soil maps as a good foundation of how we are going to come up with a plan. We soil sample on two and a half acre grids and when we make these sample sites we overlay them on our SMS advance desktop software to make sure that sample site is in one soil sample. When we get the readings from the lab, we use that to write our VRT recommendations.”

They can then compare results from previous years and start selecting what hybrids will work in each field. Frank said it is kind of like a draft. The multiple hybrid planting is something that he sees them utilizing in the very near future as well.

Frank also shared that colors don’t mix when you are dealing with this level of technology. He shared that precision planting has been the best way for them to use their green planter with their red tractor. Legner Farms has truly adopted the use of technology to create efficiency and increase profitability. He goes on to explain how they have taken advantage of different precision ag company’s innovations and looks forward to seeing what’s next.

You can listen to Chuck’s complete interview with Frank here: Interview with Frank Legner

2014 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Gas Hole’s Impact on the Industry

nbb-14-gasholeWhen Jeremy Wagner and Scott Roberts made the movie Gas Hole a couple of years ago, they had no idea the impact it would have. During the recent 2014 National Biodiesel Conference & Expo the co-directors/producers presented to attendees, showed an extended excerpt from the movie and did a little Q & A.

Chuck caught up with the team and they shared how they decided a film about the oil industry was their goal and what research it took to accomplish such an endeavor.

Scott said the idea come to them “when the gas prices hit an all-time high. At the time I think it was only $3.25, it was unheard of at the time. We saw an article in a newspaper written by a gentlemen who remembered seeing a vehicle back in the 50′s that he was told got a 100 mph. What happened to that technology and why aren’t we using it?”

They knew they wanted to do a documentary together, but hadn’t decided on a topic. After this discovery they hunted down the man from the article and the rest is history.

“As we started to learn about the history of oil and what happened going back to standard oil. How that became a giant monopoly and then broken up and how it moved us into the 70′s and then we had the oil embargo. The story is so enormous and fascinating we kept running in to these things that you don’t really think about or know unless you have researched it,” Jeremy said. He continued by saying, “We started researching alternative fuels and seeing what was the most viable thing and we came across biodiesel and what was happening in that industry.”

The duo share that their message to viewers is to explain this concept that has been made very complex, when it shouldn’t be. Gas Hole presents the idea that the solutions to our oil dependency is relatively simple.

“We hope through the film we can open people’s eyes and make them think about things they have never thought about before and takeaway all the great things in history that have been accomplished. It took hard work and determination, we are a great country – we have great innovators. This is a perfect example being here at this conference and seeing the people that are doing just that.” added Scott.

If you are interested in purchasing Gas Hole, visit GasHoleMovie.com. It is also available on iTunes, Netflix, Amazon and basically all the major outlets.

You can listen to Chuck’s complete interview with Jeremy & Scott here: Interview with Jeremy Wagner & Scott Roberts

2014 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Soybean Growers Push for Biodiesel in Big Apple

New York Bioheat Advertising CampaignThe growers of the most popular feedstock for biodiesel made the case for the green fuel to the largest market in the U.S. This story from the Grand Island (NE) Independent tells how members of the Nebraska Soybean Board and more than 90 other representatives from the United Soybean Board (USB), American Soybean Association (ASA), and nine other state soybean boards went to New York City to see how the metropolis is using biodiesel and Bioheat, heating oil mixed with biodiesel.

By 2015, all buildings in New York City that use heating oil will be required to use a B5 blend of Bioheat, meaning that it contains 5 percent pure biodiesel.

According to the Nebraska Soybean Board, New York City has led the way in embracing alternative fuels such as biodiesel and Bioheat. In 2007, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his Plan NYC, which brought 25 city agencies together to help tackle some of the toughest issues facing the city in the years to come. As a part of this visionary plan, Bloomberg called for a 30 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2017.

Keith Kerman, the chief fleet officer and deputy commissioner for NYC’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services, said biodiesel and Bioheat have played key roles in helping the city meet its GHG reduction goal.

“As of last year, we had reduced our emissions by 9.3 percent, and we fully expect that number to be over 20 percent after this year,” Kerman said.

State soybean boards, including the one in Nebraska, have been big funders of biodiesel and Bioheat education and outreach to areas outside of the Midwest, especially in the metropolitan areas, such as New York City. Makes sense as the East Coast markets are a great place to make use of the green fuel when it might not be moving as well in the wintertime back where most of it is produced, the agricultural areas of the Midwest.

All They Want for Christmas Is a Biogas Generator

Franklin, Vermont farmers Denna and Mike Benjamin were heading into the holidays with a big wish: natural gas to start their anaerobic digester to convert the methane fro their cows’ manure to electricity. The project was partially funded by a federal grant, and if the digester was not operating by year’s end they would lose a major portion of the money.

The challenge they were facing was not living near a natural gas pipleline and a “shot of pure gas” was needed to get the biogas generator going.  So the Benjamins called NG Advantage, a company that trucks compressed natural gas (CNG) to very large industrial NGA starting farmers methane producer 2013 6customers not located on gas pipelines. The company brings several tractor-trailer loads of gas each day to their large customers, whose factories run their boilers 24/7. These isolated facilities save an estimated 20-40 percent on their fuel bills and emit 26 percent less CO2. The Benjamins hoped that NG Advantage could bring them the much-needed natural gas to get their digester operating.

Even though the Benjamins did not need a trailer full of gas, NG Advantage worked with the Benjamins’ engineer, John Forcier of Forcier Consulting Engineers PC, Christopher Herrick, the Chief of the Vermont HAZMAT Response Team, Mike Raker of the Green Mountain Power Renewable Development Fund, Robert Achilles of the Vermont State Agency of Agriculture, and a Canadian company Bio-Methatech, to make a small delivery of gas available to the Benjamins within two days of the phone call. General Transportation of Bridge Water, MA (NG Advantage’s hauler) provide the use of their tractor at no charge to help reduce the cost.

NG Advantage’s VP of Operations and Safety, Gerry Myers, organized the holiday rescue team. He explained why the company went out of its way to help the Benjamins, “Environmental stewardship and embracing the needs of our community at large are embedded in our company’s daily operations. Helping the Benjamin family and Riverview Farm achieve success with their digester project was the right thing to do.”

Denna Benjamin described why it is important for them to build a digester at the Riverview Farm by saying, “We, as other farmers, are looking for ways to diversify our income steam so that we can keep farming. This project seemed like a way to do that and to improve the environment at the same time.”

The Benjamins built the anaerobic digester to use the manure from their cows to create electricity that they can sell back to the grid, to generate heat their farm, and to create a byproduct that provides dry bedding for the cows. By using the methane from the manure to generate electricity, they also eliminate the substantial release of greenhouse gas that would have otherwise naturally occurred. Continue reading

OriginOil Launches Aquaculture Showcase

OriginOil has launched its Permanent Technology Showcase with a demonstration of its EWS Aqua Q60 and EWS Algae A60 models at Aqua Farming Tech, a sustainable fish farm in Thermal, California, located in the Coachella Valley.

OriginOil Aqua Farming Photo Jessica Sterling Photography“Worldwide, more fish is now being farmed than beef,” said Riggs Eckelberry, president and CEO of OriginOil. “While this is good news, the aquaculture industry will have to address the environmental and operational problems it faces if it is to continue to grow, including the fact that fish is often farmed under toxic conditions. Our Coachella Valley showcase is intended to serve as a living demonstration of the feasibility of clean, sustainable aquaculture.”

OriginOil’s commercial fish farming pond water treatment system can rapidly remove ammonia, bacteria and other aquatic invaders from pond water. And farmers who want a healthier and less-expensive alternative to fish meal can use OriginOil’s algae harvesting system to produce nutritious fish feed. Together, the OriginOil Aquaculture System can help spur the growth of sustainable fish farming on a global scale by reducing costs, eliminating the need for chemical treatment and improving the quality of the product.

Aquaculture is a fast-growing industry. The $100 billion industry is expected to increase by 33 percent between 2012 and 2022, compared to an increase of only 3 percent in capture fisheries, according to the United Nations (The State of World Fisheries, P. 206). But the growth is leading to operational and environmental problems, including the high costs of energy and fish feed, which have forced many fish farms in the Coachella Valley to close.

According to OriginOil, EWS works by recirculating water through a low-voltage electrical pulsing system that causes contaminants or algae to coagulate, or clump together. The clumped-up material then enters a second stage in which low-power electrical pulses generate a cloud of micro-bubbles that gently lift the concentrate to the surface for harvesting.

The EWS Aqua Q60 commercial fish farming pond water treatment system can service 50,000 liters daily, says OriginOil, while consuming less than 20 kilowatt-hours of electricity per day (about $2.40 worth). The system is designed to reduce fish stress and improve yields, while sharply reducing or eliminating the need for chemicals and antibiotics.

The EWS Algae A60 is a mid-scale harvester that can process up to 60 liters (16 gallons) per minute of algae water. Individual EWS Algae A60 units can be assigned to manage a pond or bioreactor assembly of up to 500,000 liters. Units can be combined to achieve massive parallel processing capability. The unit removes 99 percent of the water to produce an algae concentrate. Algae-based fish feed costs up to 60 to 70 percent less than traditional fish feed.

Ag, Biofuel Industries Dealt a Blow From EPA

The agriculture and biofuel industry has been dealt a blow according to Adam Nielsen, director of legislation and policy development for the Illinois Farm Bureau. Nielsen, who spends a significant amount of time promoting the agricultural industry in Washington, D.C., said the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed 2014 reduction of the amount of corn ethanol blended as part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is of great concern.

Adam Nielsen Illinois Farm BureauNielsen expressed his concern to Representative Cheri Bustos (D-IL) during her recent visit to Patriot Renewable Fuels located in Annawan, Illinois. As Nielsen aptly points out, agriculture is the number one industry in the state of Illinois.

“We’re hoping to see an upward revision,” said Nielsen, “and we’re going to try to activate our members over the next couple of months and try to get as many comments as we can into the Federal Register.” He stressed that his organization is going to participate in as many forums and areas they can to try to get the proposed rule changed.

“It’s a blow to the renewable fuels industry and a blow to agriculture. There are so many things attached to the Renewable Fuel Standard,” explained Nielsen. “It’s been so significant in recent years that we need to do whatever we can to protect it.”

As a policy Nielsen said the RFS has done a lot to improve the lives of those in the agriculture industry and especially in the area around Patriot Renewable Fuels. He noted that biofuels and agriculture are completely intertwined. “It’s provided a market where there wasn’t one prior to the Renewable Fuels Standard,” he said.

“It is so intertwined right now that any time you make decisions like this it’s going to have wide ramifications. So that’s the message we need to get through to the U.S. EPA in the next couple of months,” added Nielsen.

Listen to my interview with Adam Nielsen here where he discusses both the RFS as well as the need for a Farm Bill and how the two bills are intertwined: Ag, Biofuel Industries Dealt a Blow from EPA

Check out the Patriot Renewable Fuels photo album.

USDA, DOD Announce Farm-to-Fleet Program

U.S. Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack and Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus have announced a joint “Farm-to-Fleet” venture to make biofuel blends part of regular, operational fuel purchases and use by the military. The announcement incorporates the acquisition of biofuel blends into regular Department of Defense (DOD) domestic solicitations for jet engine and marine diesel fuels. The Navy will seek to purchase JP-5 and F-76 advanced drop-in biofuels blended from 10 to 50 percent with conventional fuels. Funds from USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) will assist the effort.

military use of biofuels“The Navy’s intensifying efforts to use advanced, homegrown fuels to power our military benefits both America’s national security and our rural communities,” said Vilsack. “Not only will production of these fuels create jobs in rural America, they’re cost effective for our military, which is the biggest consumer of petroleum in the nation. America’s Navy shouldn’t have to depend on oil supplies from foreign nations to ensure our national defense, and rural America stands ready to provide clean, homegrown energy that increases our military’s energy independence and puts Americans to work.”

Farm-to-Fleet builds on the USDA/U.S. Navy partnership inaugurated in 2010, when President Barack Obama challenged his Secretaries of Agriculture, Energy and Navy to investigate how they could work together to speed the development of domestic, competitively-priced “drop-in” diesel and jet fuel substitutes.

“A secure, domestically-produced energy source is very important to our national security,” said Navy Secretary Mabus. “Energy is how our naval forces are able to provide presence around the world. Energy is what gets them there and keeps them there. The Farm-to-Fleet initiative we are announcing today is important to advancing a commercial market for advanced biofuel, which will give us an alternative fuel source and help lessen our dependence on foreign oil.”

The announcement marks the first time alternative fuels such as advanced drop-in biofuels will be available for purchase through regular procurement practices. It lowers barriers for alternative domestic fuel suppliers to do business with DOD. Preliminary indications from the Defense Production Act Title III Advanced Drop-in Biofuels Production Project are that drop-in biofuels will be available for less than $4 per gallon by 2016, making them competitive with traditional sources of fuel.

The program gets underway with a bulk fuels solicitation in 2014, with deliveries expected in mid-2015. USDA and Navy also are collaborating on an Industry Day, Jan. 30, 2014, where stakeholders can learn more about Farm-to-Fleet.

Listen to the press announcement with Ag Secretary Vilsack and Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus here: USDA, DOD Announce Farm-to-Fleet Program

Standard Ethanol Selects Greenbelt Technology

Greenbelt Resources Corporation has been selected by Australia-based Standard Ethanol Pty. Ltd to design and deliver an end-to-end commercial-scale advanced biofuel system for converting wheat feedstock to ethanol and organic fertilizer.

The module is designed to enable beverage producers and agri-businesses to locally recycle organic wastes into usable products. The customized modular system for Standard Ethanol will include proprietary distillation and dehydration modules and a plant-wide implementation of automated process controls. This commercially-viable system, designed to produce fertilizer and 0.5 million gallons per year (MMGY) fuel-grade ethanol, is scheduled for delivery in 2014.

“This system design will prove that converting waste to bioenergy is a profitable endeavor for our industry and the customers we serve,” said Darren Eng, CEO of Greenbelt Resources Corporation. “The management team leading the effort at Standard Ethanol has a strong track record for executing on visionary business innovations and their contract with us is an important validation of our technology and expertise.”

plant_image_smallerStandard Ethanol conducted a worldwide search over a four year period that included visits to the Greenbelt Paso Plant in Paso Robles, California, and to the Stan Mayfield Biofuel Center at the University of Florida, where a distillation module purchased by the university is currently in operation. Standard Ethanol said they selected Greenbelt Resources as the best technology partner based on verifiable experience, high-quality workmanship and a reputation for delivering performance outcomes which exceed expectations. The system will recycle wheat and the company plans to use the ethanol to fuel its own irrigation pumps and vehicles or sell it within the local community.

“After an international search, choosing Greenbelt Resources as the partner for developing our bioenergy facility came easily due to their impressive technology and versatile business model,” said Larry Walsh, Director, Standard Ethanol Pty Ltd. “By adding this system we will gain added value from lower grades of wheat while we also begin to achieve a measure of local energy independence.”

The directors of Standard Ethanol were recently involved in completing another large venture in Australia with the construction of a fully operational cotton gin. Projected cost to operate the system from Greenbelt Resources is estimated to be below one dollar per gallon of biofuel produced.

Save The RFS Ad Debutes in Iowa

A new “Save the RFS” television ad is now running throughout Iowa, a key state in Presidential elections. The ad was produced by Americans United For Change (AUFC) who says while Big Oil is advertising to elites in the DC market, they are playing at the heart of the country where real people and their lives and livelihoods are at stake. The ad is aimed at all those who know the benefits from the RFS – from farmers, ethanol industry workers, secondary industries, surrounding economies, as well as American consumers – urging them to tell the EPA to do what’s best for rural America, not Big Oil’s bottom line.

While Big Oil is at war with farmers and rural communities and has called for the repeal of the RFS – AUFC says they are out to save the RFS for the good of our economy and our environment. In addition through the SavetheRFS website, VoteVets will recruit people to become part of a team who will help communicate the importance of renewable fuels to Americans as well as to local, state and federal legislators.

Brad Woodhouse, president of AUFC said of the RFS, “The industry that brought us the Gulf oil spill loves the new RFS rule as it stands and would love nothing more than to keep rural America quiet until the ink is dry. That’s why it’s incredibly important that Americans in the heartland make their voices heard, because the strength in numbers of those who benefit from the RFS can beat Big Oil’s deep pockets.”

“If this misguided EPA rule is made permanent, the ripple effect cannot be overstated. As the family farmer and ethanol industry goes, so goes the positive growth we’ve seen in rural economies since the RFS was established, so goes the hundreds of thousands of American jobs that have been created, so goes the availability of fuel 70 cents cheaper whole sale than gasoline, so goes the billion dollars American consumers save every week, so goes the gains made in combating climate change and reducing dependence on oil from unstable regions overseas,” continued Woodhouse.

“Big Oil knows if they’re successful at eliminating their cheaper, cleaner competition, then anything goes when it comes to prices at the pump – even if it means sending more of our troops, and money and jobs overseas.”

Genera Energy, UTIA Complete $5M Biofuels Grant

Genera Energy and the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) were awarded a $5 million grant in 2009 from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), to research and develop economical systems for bulk-handling and processing of chopped switchgrass and reduce the costs of baling in the field and subsequent bale grinding. Genera has announced that the research supported by the grant has been completed.

Funds from the grant were used by Genera Energy to add a bulk-format handling and research equipment to its existing Biomass Innovation Park facility, implementing new gI_135453_biomass-supply-chaintechnology best engineered to supply processed switchgrass within specification at the lowest cost. Genera’s added capabilities are unique in that they allow it to receive, convey, store, reclaim, discharge, and compact bulk-format switchgrass automatically with an effective, integrated system.

“Through this grant and by collaborating with Genera Energy, we’ve been able to evaluate existing switchgrass supply logistics and to develop ground-breaking systems that offer better and more cost-effective methods for handling, processing, and storing chopped switchgrass,” said Al Womac, Ph.D.,  professor of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science with UTIA and the project leader. “The funding began in 2009 and in that time we have been able to create and produce a fully-replicable system that saves money and time and which is logistically superior to traditional baling.”

Using scientific data collected during the research phases UTIA and Genera were able to develop innovative systems that were based on detailed analysis of switchgrass harvest and handling equipment and logistical efficiencies as well as material characteristics such as weight, particle size, bulk density, moisture content and other factors. Software was also developed to calculate effective field capacity, field efficiency, machine utilization and system limiting factors.

“Our collaboration with the University of Tennessee in the development of new feedstock logistics systems using chopped switchgrass has culminated in a first-of-its-kind system,” added Genera Energy President and CEO Kelly Tiller, Ph.D. “By working with our partners over the last several years, we’ve developed a fully-functioning and innovative biomass feedstock bulk supply chain. And in the process we are creating sustainable biomass feedstock systems that can be replicated on a larger scale, something we only imagined when Genera was first envisioned.”

Renewable Energy Project in NC Begins

NC DM 2 - 3 completeA ribbon-cutting ceremony was recently held by Revolution Energy Solutions (RES), a company focused on waste-to-electricity projects, for its inaugural North Carolina anaerobic digestion project, coined NC-1. The project is currently one of the largest and most progressive farm-based biogas projects in the state.

The event included representatives from RES along with farm hosts Murphy Family Ventures, as well as Lloyd Yates, Duke Energy executive vice president of Regulated Utilities. The nexus of energy, agriculture and the environment, RES says NC-1 marks the beginning of a new era in renewable energy production, rural economic development, community-wide environmental benefits and swine industry waste enhancements for North Carolina.

As the second largest pork producing state in the country, North Carolina generates 40 million gallons of swine manure daily. North Carolina has created a Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (REPS) that establishes the amount of energy demand in the state that must come from renewable sources. The REPS also includes a specific set-aside for swine waste-to-energy projects, which serves as a catalyst for deploying this type of technology and capital in North Carolina, and Duke University estimates that the REPS requirement could be met with as few as 127 state farms.

DM 4 - 3 CHP November 2013“Projects such as NC-1 are a gateway to rural economic development and renewable energy production. Not only are we generating significant electricity and employment opportunities, we are greatly enhancing the farm’s existing waste management system to improve processing and create previously unachievable environmental benefits,” said Alan Tank, co-founder and CEO of Revolution Energy Solutions. “North Carolina already has the requisite quality and quantity of feedstock to sustain these types of projects. We’re confident that additional states will embrace this example and NC-1 will be the first of many such waste-to-energy projects in the United States.”

RES says it brings both the patented, proprietary technology and proven project success to transform these swine waste streams into a meaningful source of energy. By processing waste streams generated by livestock on farms, as well as other organic feedstock materials such as food waste, fats, greases and oils and municipal waste streams, RES projects can create renewable energy, improve the environment and drive local economic development. These projects generate measurable air and water quality benefits, including greenhouse gas emission reductions, pathogen destruction, hydrogen sulfide emission reductions, and enhanced nutrient management and waste stream utilization.

Energy Title “Vital” in Farm Bill

More than 40 bipartisan House and Senate members including Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Representatives Dave Loebsack (D-2-IA) and Aaron Schock (R-18-IL), sent “Dear Colleague” letters to Farm Bill Conference leaders stressing the vital importance of the energy title (Title IX). In response, the Agriculture Energy Coalition (AgEC) praised the legislator’s letter of support.

Farm in Wisconsin“The energy title is critically important to helping rural areas move towards diverse renewable energy and energy efficiency opportunities including wind, solar, biomass, biogas, efficiency upgrades, and hydro in all 50 states,” said Congressman Dave Loebsack on the Farm Bill’s Energy Title. “These programs are also helping our agricultural producers and rural economies be more efficient and adding value to things like farm waste for energy production. They also are critically important to continue to develop cutting edge advanced biofuels that will create jobs here at home and help our nation become more energy secure for use in everything from cars and trucks, to planes and our military.”

The letters continued by saying “REAP, BCAP and BAP are just three examples of energy title programs that are helping our nation utilize our rich agricultural capacity to produce reliable domestic energy. American farmers have long led the world in food crop production, but as we seek to become more energy independent and less reliant on foreign sources of energy to power our economy, ag-based energy products are increasingly important; energy title programs significantly enhance the development of our nation’s clean energy and agriculture economy.”

Lloyd Ritter, co-director of the Agriculture Energy Coalition (AgEC), said of the letters of support, “We would like to extend thanks to the more than 40 Senators and Representatives who expressed their support for vital Farm Bill Energy programs. We especially thank Senators Klobuchar and Blunt, along with Representatives Loebsack and Shock, for their leadership. These Farm Bill energy programs have supported renewable energy development and energy efficiency in rural communities and have helped create or save thousands of good paying jobs. The continued success of these programs requires the long term sustainability of a five year Farm Bill and the necessary investment to maintain healthy programs.”

Farmers Harvesting Biomass for Project LIBERTY

Farmers are now harvesting and delivering cob bales for the 2014 opening of Project LIBERTY in Emmetsburg, Iowa. Project LIBERTY is POET-DSM’s 20 million-gallon-per-year biorefinery currently under construction. When the facility begins production, it will use Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 3.23.47 PMcorn crop residue – cobs, leaves, husk and some stalk – as the primary feedstock to produce cellulosic ethanol.

With the 2013 harvest season already underway, growers have started delivering bales to the plant’s 22-acre stackyard. Although POET-DSM has organized four previous commercial-scale harvests in the past that have brought in nearly 200,00 tons of feedstock, this year’s bales will for the first time be used to produce cellulosic ethanol at the plant’s startup.

“Half of our biomass stackyard is filling up with cob bales for ethanol production,” Project LIBERTY General Manager Daron Wilson said. “Things are going smoothly. Our advance work over the last few years on feedstock logistics is paying off.”

Crop residue represents a new market for farmers that provides additional revenue with minimal input costs. It does not require any additional planting, and crop residue can be harvested with a standard baler. Nutrient replacement at POET-DSM’s suggested rate of removal – approximately 1 ton per acre or 25 percent of the above-ground biomass – is minimal.

“It’s been an easy way to diversify my farm operation and incorporate some much-needed crop residue management into the harvest,” said local farmer Charlie Kollasch. “This has been an important business opportunity for our area.”

POET-DSM intends to purchase approximately 100,000 tons from this year’s harvest to handle start-up and continuing operations through the 2014 harvest.