News last update:6 Aug 2012

USDA encourages alternative ethanol crops

US agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns assured US cattle producers that the government will work hard to encourage other ways of making ethanol. This will give farmers relief from high corn prices.

The price of corn, an important cattle feed, have sped higher as more of the grain goes to making the biofuel ethanol. "That is why we proposes to accelerate our research into cost-effective ways of producing cellulosic ethanol from biomass," Johanns said during the convention of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
The ethanol production process can use grasses, woody plants, wood waste, sugar cane and sugar beets, he said. The proposed 2007 Farm Bill released last week recommends US$1.6 billion in new funding over the next 10 years targeted at the development of cellulosic ethanol. It also proposes US$2.1 billion in guaranteed loans for cellulosic projects and construction of plants in rural areas.

Meet energy needs
"This constitutes a strong commitment to nailing down the knowledge and building the infrastructure we must have to meet a much larger share of our energy needs," said Johanns. A US$500 million portion of that US$1.6 billion will be used for grants to develop new energy sources, possibly methane gas from livestock waste, he said. "All of that could be a part of this initiative," he said.

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