USDA encourages alternative ethanol crops

05-02-2007 | |

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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