Florida Governor Promotes Alternative Fuels

Florida Farm to Fuel Governor CristFlorida Governor Charlie Crist spoke to a group of over 450 gathered for the third annual Florida Farm to Fuel summit in Orlando Thursday, following an address by US Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer.

“You know that Florida is a top agricultural state already,” Crist told the group. “The development of ethanol and other biofuels is incredibly important to Florida’s future and America’s future. I truly believe that investing in renewable and alternative energies in the Sunshine State can propel us as a leader, no question about it.”

Governor Crist highlighted Florida’s historic, comprehensive energy and economic development legislation, which was created by the 2008 Florida Legislature and signed by the Governor at last month’s 2008 Serve to Preserve Florida Summit on Global Climate Change in Miami. As proposed by the Governor, the legislation expands the previously existing renewable energy grants program to include energy efficiency projects. The 2008-09 budget includes $7 million for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, with another $8 million for bioenergy projects to be administered by the new Florida and Energy and Climate Commission, also created by the legislation.

Listen to Governor Crist’s remarks here:

Farm Foundation Report Finds Three Reasons for High Food Prices

Domestic Fuel CastThere seems to be no end to the rhetoric bouncing around between agricultural experts, critics and media about what’s driving food costs. Biofuels are still one of the most common scapegoats for why we’re paying more for our food than ever before. But the Farm Foundation wants to get to the root of it all. That’s why it sought out three academics from Purdue University to research more than a dozen studies and determine the “truth” behind what the organization calls “one of the most important issues facing agriculture today.” The Farm Foundation hopes the findings of their report will offer policy makers an objective source to refer to when facing the challenges of today’s food system.

Wally Tyner is one of the professors who was a part of the three-man team that conducted the study. The agricultural economics guru says his team found three major driving factors in high food prices:

“The first is global trends in production and consumption of agricultural commodities. The second is has to do with sort of macro economic factors, the depreciation of the dollar. And the third has to do with biofuels. And these are linked in some ways but in some ways its like a perfect storm of all these things coming together at the same time that has led to the huge run-up in prices.”

In this DomesticFuel Cast, we hear from Neal Conklin, President of Farm Foundation and Wally Tyner, Professor of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University. Here is the Domestic Fuel Cast #7:

You can also subscribe to the DomesticFuel Cast using the following url/feed link: http://www.zimmcomm.biz/domesticfuel/domestic-fuel-cast.xml.

Ethanol Report on Food Price Study

RFA PodcastThe Farm Foundation study on food price drivers released this week in Washington DC was the focus of a forum held at the National Press Club.

This edition of “The Ethanol Report” features comments from the Farm Foundation forum and report on “What’s Driving Food Prices?” Featured are Farm Foundation President Neil Conklin, Purdue University economist Wally Tyner, and University of Nebraska public policy analyst Brad Lubben.

You can subscribe to the twice-monthly “The Ethanol Report” by following this link.

Or you can listen to it on-line here:

EPIC Steps Up to Take Charge of Ethanol

The Ethanol Promotion and Information Council is the organization that takes charge of educating consumers about ethanol. Just last month, the young non-profit held it’s first ever annual meeting, where new ideas were presented, new members were elected and new goals were set.

e-podcastEPIC executive Director Toni Nuernberg says EPIC has already achieved much success in its first two years, but the organization is charged for even greater success to come. She says it’s time for EPIC to no longer just respond to the debate about ethanol, but become proactive, get out front and change the debate. EPIC board members new and experienced agree.

The podcast is available to download by subscription (see our sidebar link) or you can listen to it by clicking here (4:00 MP3 File):

The Fill Up, Feel Good theme music is “Tribute to Joe Satriani” by Alan Renkl, thanks to the Podsafe Music Network.

“Fill up, Feel Good” is sponsored by the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council.

Ethanol Industry Leaders Unite

RFA PodcastBiofuels groups from the US, Canada, Brazil and Europe put aside their differences this past week to present a united front to world leaders meeting in Japan.

This edition of “The Ethanol Report” features an interview with Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen about the input the groups provided to the Group of Eight meeting of world leaders, what the outcome of the meeting was regarding biofuels, and why it is important for global biofuels producers to work together.

You can subscribe to the twice-monthly “The Ethanol Report” by following this link.

Or you can listen to it on-line here:

Iowa Farmers Keep High Harvest Expectations Despite Record Floods

Domestic Fuel Cast

In this DomesticFuel Cast, we hear from Craig Floss, Chief Executive Officer for the Iowa Corn Grower’s Association and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, Julius Schaaf, chair of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board and Gary Edwards of the Iowa Corn Growers Association. Here is the Domestic Fuel Cast #5:

You can also subscribe to the Domestic Fuel Cast using the following url/feed link: http://www.zimmcomm.biz/domesticfuel/domestic-fuel-cast.xml.

USDA Report Good News for Ethanol

NASSThe USDA Planted Acreage report out Monday was good news, although it does not yet reflect the damage from Midwest flooding.

Corn planted area is reported to be 1.31 million acres more than was estimated in the March intentions report at 87.3 million acres, down just 7 percent from last year. That is the second highest since 1946, behind last year’s total of 93.6 million acres. If it were all to make it, growers would harvest 78.9 million acres for grain, down 9 percent from 2007 and the second highest since 1944.

RFAPutting the acreage report in context with respect to America’s ethanol industry, Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen said it shows how American farmers are capable of meeting the growing demand for feed, food, fiber and fuel.

“This report once again demonstrates that together with agriculture, American ethanol producers can help lead this nation in new, renewable energy direction,” said Dinneen.

National Corn Growers Association chairman Ken McCauley says his corn in Northeast Kansas looks good right now and it’s important to remember that there is plenty of corn being grown outside of Iowa.

“I tell you what, everybody is going to produce some corn,” McCauley said. “Iowa will produce a lot of corn and when you get down to it we’re gonna have a good corn crop and it could even be one of the better one or two or three.”

Listen to an interview with Ken here:

New EPIC Board Member Calls for a Cohesive Ethanol Industry

Another representative of Fagen Incorporated has joined the ranks in the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council. Matt Sederstrom of Platinum Ethanol is a new board member, elected at EPIC’s first annual meeting earlier this month.

Matt says he hopes to drive a solid cohesiveness in the ethanol industry, bringing more members and industry partners together for a common cause.

“Now more than ever you’re probably seeing a need for us to step up and be more of a cohesive industry,” Matt said. He echoed LifeLine Foods‘ Dave Vander Griend saying “everyone has to shoulder the load.”

Chuck spoke with Matt at EPIC’s first annual meeting. You can listen to Chuck’s interview here:

EPIC Board Embraces Veteran Experience with Ethanol

Gary Pestorious (pictured speaking with EPIC founder Ron Fagen) isn’t new to ethanol nor to the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council. Gary was elected for another term as an EPIC board member at the organization’s first annual meeting.

As a two year veteran with EPIC, one thing Gary stresses is EPIC’s role in the ethanol industry. He says EPIC is not a political arm, rather its an organization meant to do exactly what its name states “promote and inform.”

Gary says informing the public is crucial to the growth of the industry, “once [consumers have] understood the truths, they’re always for ethanol… If you understand ethanol you will vote for it.”

Chuck spoke with Gary at EPIC’s first annual meeting. You can listen to Chuck’s interview here:

New EPIC Board Member Man of Many Hats

One of the newest board members of the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council is a man of many hats. Ray Defenbaugh is the CEO of Big River Resources, a company that’s based in Southeast Iowa. The company already operates a one 100 million gallon ethanol plant and another is under construction.

But, Ray doesn’t just know ethanol production. He’s also quite the fiscally savvy farmer. Ray serves as chairman of the board for a $330 million bank.

That’s still not all. He serves as a director for the Renewable Fuels Association as well.

When asked about this latest “hat” though, Ray says ethanol possesses a “wide area of influence and effect.” He says the fuel is an excellent representation of value added agriculture, “bringing value right back into our Midwestern community right where it belongs.”

Chuck spoke with Ray at EPIC’s first annual meeting. You can listen to Chuck’s interview here:

Transition To A Bio Economy Conference Wrap Up

Corny GallagherTo wrap things up here at the Farm Foundation Transition To A Bio Economy conference I spoke with board member, Cornelius Gallagher. He says the conference brought together world class leaders who were able to listen to some fantastic presentations. I’ve posted interviews with almost all of them so please scroll back through them.

Corny, as he likes to be called, says that the conference accomplished what it was supposed to which is bringing leaders together to foster knowledge and provide attendees with a better understanding in a broad sense of the bio economy.

The next conference in the series will be held October 15-16 in St. Louis.

You can listen to my interview with Corny here:

You can also download the interview using this link (mp3).

Transition To A Bio Economy Photo Album

What We Need To Know

Peggy CaswellWhat we know and what we need to know was Peggy Caswell’s, USDA-ERS, topic here at the Farm Foundation Transition To A Bio Economy conference. She says we need to know things about how farmers or the providers of biofuels and feed stocks are going to have to change the way they do business. She used the example of having to look at different types of contracts and financing.

She said that ethanol companies are going to need a consistent and reliable source of product and that farming by nature is very variable. So farmers will be taking big risks and that’s why contracting will be necessary. She also calls for a lot more research, something we heard earlier in the program from other speakers.

You can listen to my interview with Peggy here:

You can also download the interview using this link (mp3).

Transition To A Bio Economy Photo Album

Chevron in Biofuels

We heard from Chevron here at the Transition To A Bio Economy conference since according to Paul Bryan, the company has made a major commitment to biofuels. He says they created a biofuels business unit about 2 years ago. Their focus is on 2nd generation biofuels that use non-food crops.

His talk focused on the integration in the biopetroleum business. He describes that as using bio-derived fuels that work with the existing petroleum infrastructure. One of the projects they’re involved with uses micro algae and he’s saying that it will be about 5 to 15 years before it’s in full volume production.

You can listen to my interview with Paul here:

You can also download the interview using this link (mp3).

Post Update: Photo removed at Mr. Bryan’s request.

Transition To A Bio Economy Photo Album

Ethanol Investing Decline

Chris GroobeyThe issue of investment and financing for ethanol plants and bio refineries in general was addressed today by Chris Groobey, Baker & McKenzie, LLP. He works on project financing with investors and lenders and mostly in renewable fuels. He painted a pretty bleak picture.

In fact, he says the New York investment community is not interested in biofuels right now. He says they’re tapped out and that ethanol and biodiesel are not of interest to them at all. So with that being said, what’s next? He says there needs to be a combination of making more money from existing plants by co-locating other facilities or finding other sources of income from the same plant. He also thinks there needs to be more and bigger business structures.

He says this means we’re returning to more traditional models of rural development that take a longer term view. He recommends growing local agriculturally skilled management teams with people who understand farm risk.

You can listen to my interview with Chris here:

You can also download the interview using this link (mp3).

Transition To A Bio Economy Photo Album

More Bio Economy Research Needed

Gale BuchananOur USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics is Gale Buchanan. He was here at the Transition To A Bio Economy conference to talk about the need for research in a growing bio economy. In fact, he sees a need for a tremendous amount of research to address the opportunities presented by the whole energy picture.

He also talked about how impressed he was at last week’s Bio Energy Awareness Days in Washington, DC where 35 different universities made presentations.

You can listen to my interview with Gale here:

You can also download the interview using this link (mp3).

Transition To A Bio Economy Photo Album