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News Briefs, Sept. 8: 'Drop-in' biofuels | Agritourism boost | Lake restoration
U.S. government investing in ‘drop-in’ biofuels
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus have announced the next step in the creation of a public-private partnership to develop drop-in advanced biofuels. The three departments announced an investment in the private sector of up to $510 million during the next three years to produce advanced drop-in aviation and marine biofuels to power military and commercial transportation. Drop-in biofuels serve as direct replacements or supplements to existing gasoline, diesel and jet fuels, without any changes to existing fuel distribution networks or engines.
The main objective of this government-industry partnership is the construction or retrofit of several domestic commercial or pre-commercial scale advanced drop-in biofuel refineries. These facilities will produce drop-in advanced biofuels meeting military specifications, will be located in geographically diverse locations for ready market access, and will have no significant impact on the supply of agricultural commodities for the production of food, according to USDA.
Agritourism offering economic boost
The growth of agritourism is really important for both consumer and farmers because it’s an opportunity for the consumer to see how food, fuel and fiber are created and it gives an opportunity for farmers to share their story, according to Sabrina Matteson, American Farm Bureau community development specialist.
“Agritourism is the opportunity for the general consumer to visit a farm and experience some of the things that are available on a farm. A lot of people are interested in finding out where their food comes from and what the processes are for raising livestock and crops, and visiting a farm offers them that opportunity to see farmers and ranchers in their neighborhoods, in action, in the way that they take on some of these challenges,” she said.
According to 2006 figures from the U.S. Department of Interior, more than 87 million people spent about $122 billion to participate in outdoor recreation of one type or another and the lion’s share of that happens on farms and ranches. Read more at Matteson’s blog, www.ruralcommunitybuilding.fb.org.
New interactive farming game
A new interactive online game offered by the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture delivers key lessons about agriculture while providing a fun gaming experience. “The Ultimate Challenge” is the newest addition to the foundation’s “My American Farm” free online educational gaming platform. Sponsored by Pioneer Hi-Bred, a Dupont business, My American Farm has been growing in popularity since its launch in January of this year.
“The Ultimate Challenge gives students an opportunity to see and experience the story of agriculture from gate to plate,” said Curtis Miller, director of education for the foundation.
To find The Ultimate Challenge and take advantage of other My American Farm resources, games and activities, visit www.myamericanfarm.org
USDA awards grant for lake restoration effort
The Quasar Energy Group, LLC, has received a $1 million USDA grant to demonstrate the effectiveness of anaerobic digesters to process and manage livestock waste in the Grand Lake St. Marys watershed and to prevent livestock nutrients from entering the Mississippi River.
The money comes as part of the agriculture department’s 2011 Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) program. Through CIG, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is investing nearly $22.5 million in innovative conservation technologies and approaches that address a broad array of existing and emerging natural resource issues.
Projects will be carried out in 40 states. Eight of the approved grants support development of conservation innovations in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, and another eight focus on the Mississippi River Basin.