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U.S. agriculture’s energy role the point of seminar
Assistant Editor

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Farmers and ranchers sharing their first-hand experiences in energy production, including anaerobic digesters, biomass, wind, ethanol and biodiesel, is one of the highlights of a conference Dec. 14-15 in St. Louis, Mo.

According to conference organizers, “Agriculture’s role in energy production is garnering increased attention as consumers, business leaders and government leaders struggle with crude oil over $60 a barrel, gasoline prices climbing toward the $3 mark and implementation of the new Energy Policy Act of 2005.”

The Energy from Agriculture Conference: New Technologies, Innovative Programs and Success Stories will provide producers, rural leaders, energy executives and government officials with practical, science-based information on agriculture’s role in energy production. The meeting is at the Marriott St. Louis Airport and is a follow-up to a June 2004 conference, Agriculture As A Consumer and Producer of Energy.

Organized by Farm Foundation and USDA’s Office of Energy Policy and New Uses, Rural Development and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the two-day conference features researchers from several Midwestern universities, including Purdue, Iowa State and the University of Minnesota.

Top USDA officials are also on the program. Keith Collins, the department’s chief economist, chairs the first session of the conference on Wednesday morning with an economic assessment of current technologies.

On Thursday morning, USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Tom Dorr leads a session on energy from agriculture success stories.

Other topics covered are:
•The future of refining agricultural biomass
•Information technology in the ethanol industry
•Feed and alternative uses for DDGs
•Energy production from nontraditional feedstocks
•Agricultural and renewable contributions to U.S. electric usage
•Crops as fuel
•Ethanol/Biodiesel conversion or use
•Market impacts in food and agricultural markets
•Cellulosic ethanol technology assessment
•Wind, solar and geothermal

Representatives from the NRCS, Department of Rural Development and other government agencies are scheduled to brief attendees on USDA programs that support agriculture’s energy role.

Some programs featured are the Conservation Security Program, Environmental Quality Incentive Program, Value Added Grant Program, Rural Business Enterprise Grant Program and the Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Program.

At the end of the first day, conference participants can attend a reception and resource fair where representatives from various government agencies, universities and research laboratories will be available.

To wrap up the conference, Under Secretary Dorr will lead a discussion on the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and other current legislation aimed at expanding the domestic renewable fuels industry.

Panel members include representatives from the EPA, Department of Energy and the Renewable Fuels Assoc.

For a complete conference program and online registration, visit the Farm Foundation website -

The conference registration fee is $175 and covers several meals, including the Wednesday evening reception, and take-home materials.

For more information, call Steve Halbrook or Mary Thompson at Farm Foundation, 630-571-9393.

This farm news was published in the November 23, 2005 issue of Farm World.