Benefits of biofuels advertised at Earth Day event

May 05, 2004 02:00 AM

Leaders from the Illinois Farm Bureau and Growmark took advantage of the last Earth Day celebration to promote the benefits of biofuels. IFB president Philip Nelson and Growmark chairman Dan Kelley, both of whom also farm and use ethanol and biodiesel, addressed members of the media and the FFA in an Earth Day ceremony. About 120 third and fourth grade children were also treated to hands-on learning activities as part of IFB’s in the Classroom program.
"We need to keep in mind that every day is Earth Day in agriculture. Everything that revolves around agriculture comes from the earth," Kelley said. "As a result, we try to be good stewards of the land and treat it as a long-term investment."

As part of that investment, farmers are finding more and more of a market through biofuels. Nelson noted that more than 30 % of the nation’s gasoline is currently blended with ethanol, which consumes more than 1 bn bushels of corn annually.
Both corn-based ethanol and E-diesel, as well as biodiesel, also significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For E-diesel alone, early testing shows this fuel can cut emissions of carbon monoxide by 17 % and particulate emissions by more than 40 %. Meanwhile, soybean-based biodiesel reportedly has the highest energy balance of any fuel. More than 400 major fleets use biodiesel commercially nationwide as more than 1,000 petroleum distributors carry the blended fuel.
"Ethanol and biodiesel clean the air and they reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources," Nelson said. "What this really means is less dependence on oil tankers coming from the Middle East."

The biofuels promotion "Our Crops, Our Fuels, Our Country" reports that one of every six rows of corn, grown in Illinois, is used to make ethanol while every gallon of biodiesel has the potential to extend US petroleum reserves by four gallons. The promotion, now in its second year, is a joint effort between the Illinois Corn Marketing Board and the Illinois Soybean Checkoff Board.
Those in the organizations, who renew their memberships, receive a free kit of promotional materials. Current members can also receive kits by sending in receipts for purchases of ethanol or biodiesel. ICMB spokesman Mark Lambert said the campaign has already gathered receipts totalling the purchase of about 70,000 gallons of the biofuels. With such success, the campaign has been extended again this year.

According to the ICMB/ ISCB campaign, ethanol currently adds more than 30 cents per bushel to the price of corn. By 2010, the demand for biodiesel could add 17 cents to the price of a bushel of soybeans.
A key to really expanding the markets is the passage of the Renewable Fuels Standard, as part of the energy bill, which is currently held up in the US Senate. IFB and Growmark employees signed a letter, urging the congressional support of the RFA, at the recent Earth Day event.
"The outlook for ethanol and biodiesel is bright, but we still have a lot of work to do," Nelson said. "RFS is important to create more demand for ethanol and biodiesel."

Kelley said the system is already in place to greatly increase biofuels production and distribution in the US Lambert reported that there’s currently 75 ethanol plants in production in the US, with 16 more set to come on line.
"We need this energy bill for a variety of reasons," Kelley said. According to one report, the RFS is expected to increase average net cash income to farmers by $ 3.3 bn over the next decade, or more than 6 %.

Source: Agri-News Publications
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