If there's one clear sign it's no longer business as usual in the
"I welcome low gasoline prices, however, it's not going to dim my enthusiasm for making sure we diversify away from oil,bCrLf President Bush
Those of you involved in agriculture should be jumping for joy right now. Sure, the President is on record he's pro renewable fuel. But still, it's not every day you get the leader of the free world to come out in public and cheer for new markets for your products (corn for ethanol, soybeans for biodiesel). "A good farm economy is important to a good national economy," he said. "It make sense to have our farmers growing the feedstock for new energy."
"We're too dependent on oil,bCrLf said President Bush. "We've got to change our habits if we want to remain the economic leader of the world.bCrLf
Those of us watching the President were impressed with what seemed to be mostly off-the-cuff comments supporting renewable energy. He was warmly received, except for the one protester who was courted away by police after shouting for the president to get the
Bush rightly pointed out that this is a unique moment in our country's history. I mean, how often do you hold an energy conference where the Secretary of Energy AND the Secretary of Agriculture AND the EPA Administrator all attend and all agree on the topic?
"We need to diversify away from oil for economic reasons,bCrLf Bush said. "We live in a global world. When the demand for oil goes up in
USDA co-sponsored the event with the Department of Energy, which announced it would spend $250 million to create two new bioenergy research centers focused on developing new bioenergy crops and processes for the next generation of ethanol plants fueled by cellulosic biomass.
A lot of farmers seem to be worried that cellulosic technology will come along and wipe out the ethanol business. That's not necessarily going to happen, according to several of the speakers at this conference.
Patricia Woertz, CEO at Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), believes corn ethanol and vegetable biodiesel will continue to account for a significant percentage of biofuels for years to come. "They will be supplemented by products that are largely still in the laboratory,bCrLf she says. "Will they ultimately be supplanted? We don't know.bCrLf
ADM, which now has one-fourth of
At a press conference with Secretary of Energy Sam Bodman, USDA Secretary Mike Johanns was asked, Will cellulosic replace corn as feedstock of choice? "Unlikely,bCrLf responded Johanns. "The (ethanol) plants are already out there and working. While we continue to believe there is exciting potential for cellulosic, complete replacement of corn-based ethanol seems unlikely.bCrLf
Cellulosic is a big wildcard. It could mean switchgrass grown in
But if I'm a corn or soybean farmer, I wouldn't lose any sleep over cellulosic. We're going to need every bit of energy you can produce.
"It is very clear that the expected growth in total
USDA Chief Economist Keith Collins