Montana Farms Prepped for Biofuel

Earlier this week, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced a new $45 million biofuel project that will include several Montana farms. The Biomass Crop Assistance Program that Vilsack announced will support eligible Montana farms for five to fifteen years, offering valuable federal funding to encourage the production of ethanol corn and other crops that can be readily converted into biofuel.

In a statement, Vilsack claimed, “This is a great challenge for everyone in government, and I’m embracing the challenge. I’m not shying away from it.”

Part of the commitment to biofuel is a holdover from the previous presidential administration. Under the Bush White House, the U.S. Department of Agriculture was directed to facilitate the production of 36 billion gallons of ethanol to augment national energy reserves. The ultimate goal of the ethanol production was to help make the nation energy independent. In his announcement last week, Vilsack announced that corn based ethanol production could produce about 16 billion gallons, and that the remaining 20 gallons could come from sources like cellulosic fuels sources.

However, potential problems arise from the recent cuts to agriculture spending. As Washington seeks to balance budgets, farm subsidies have been reduced, and are in danger of being slashed altogether. With deep cuts threatened in the 2012 Farm Bill, politicians like Montana Senator Jon Tester have said that only bipartisan support in Congress can keep energy independence programs like this running smoothly.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer