|By NANCY VORIS
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Indiana has the potential to become the “Texas of renewable fuels,” according to a panel of Purdue University experts in bioenergy speaking prior to the annual Purdue Ag Alumni Fish Fry on Saturday.
The state is becoming a leader in ethanol and soy biodiesel production - “green refineries” that don’t belch black smoke, said Bernard Tao, professor in soybean utilization research.
“You may see plants in your county or a neighboring county,” Tao said. “This is where the opportunities exist for your child and the State of Indiana. The future is bright, both in economics and in terms of production.”
He said biodiesel has seen explosive growth in the past two years, tripling past production. Young investors he met at a bioenergy conference in Fort Wayne see their future in new fuels.
“They are going to be dying to get to your feedstocks,” he told Purdue ag alumni.
Klein Ileleji, professor in agricultural and biological engineering, works with the logistics of biomass feedstock for fuel and energy production. His research combines the environmental costs of bioenergy with the threat of global warming. “If you adequately include all those costs, the future is better for renewable fuels than for fossil fuels,” Ileleji said.
Mike Ladisch, director of the Laboratory of Renewable Resources Engineering at Purdue, addressed the FFA members in the audience and advised them to get a background in biology, mathematics and chemistry.
“If you have the technology background, you can be leaders in this expanding field,” he said.
Myers: Troop morale good
Guest speaker Gen. Richard Myers was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from immediately after 9/11 until his retirement in September 2005.
Myers said that Osama Bin Laden and the terrorism he propagates in the Middle East is the biggest threat to the United States and “our way of life since the Civil War.”
Patience and resolve are needed to win the war on terrorism.
“You understand patience, it goes a long way with farming,” he said.
“We have to have the resolve; the will to prevail. We’ve got to buy in and stick it out until it’s over.”
Myers emphasized that troops in Iraq have excellent and adequate equipment, though adjustments have been made as new challenges arise. Of those troops that are injured, 90 percent are saved because of their protection.
The exit strategy for Iraq is in place, Myers said, with 160,000 troops in Iraq during the country’s election and 140,000 troops there now. He sees that number significantly lower by the end of 2006.
He visited 15,000 troops at the end of his term to check their morale.
“They understand the mess we’re in,” Myers said. “They know why U.S. involvement is important.”
Distinguished alumni honored
The annual event for the College of Agriculture was attended by 1,500 people at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
Seven alumni were honored for their work in agriculture promotion in Indiana. They were:
•Mike Beard, Frankfort, owner of Mea-dowlane Farms, who has been a leader in agricultural advocacy and policy activities on the local, state and national levels
•Ellsworth P. Christmas, West Lafayette, retired professor of agronomy and extension soybean specialist
•P. Allen Hammer, West Lafayette, professor in horticulture and landscape architecture and lead scientist on the National Poinsettia Trial
•Chris J. Johannsen, West Lafayette, professor emeritus of agronomy and former director of the Laboratory of Remote Sensing at Purdue
•William G. McVay, West Lafayette, agriculture science and business teacher for 34 years, including 31 years at South Whitley High School
•Earl M. Robertson, Linton, retired professor and department chair of agribusiness at Vincennes University, where he founded the agribusiness department
•Lawrence W. Stauffer, Delphi, a veterinarian in Carroll County