On Wednesday USDA released a 21-page report entitled "A USDA Regional Roadmap to Meeting the Biofuels Goals of the Renewable Fuels Standard by 2022." USDA is developing a comprehensive regional strategy that targets barriers to the development of a successful biofuels market that will achieve, or surpass, the current U.S. Renewable Fuels Standards.
"I think it is very important to recognize the important role that biofuels and renewable energy is going to play in revitalizing the rural economy," Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said. "We think this is a linchpin to turning some of the difficulties rural America has experiences in terms of job growth, unemployment levels, poverty levels and the difficulties some are having on the farm in terms of the bottom line."
Vilsack says one way of turning it around is creating additional opportunities for waste products or ways to use land in a more profitable way and at the same time create jobs through the construction, maintenance, and equipping of biorefineries. He says USDA wants to make sure people realize that when the 36 billion gallon threshold is met, there will be new opportunities in every part of the country.
"This isn't necessarily something that one part of the country, one region of the country can do by itself," Vilsack said. "It really does have to be a nationwide effort."
USDA plans to aggressively use the programs set forth in the Farm Bill to assist those who want to build biorefineries. Vilsack says they hope to leverage the federal dollars with state and local dollars as well as the private sector in order to build these refineries in all parts of the country.
"We want to be able to use our resources as well to help create a distribution system that is more localized," Vilsack said. "That isn't necessarily requiring that ethanol be trucked or railed great distances but that can be essentially provided on a fairly local basis."
Vilsack says that the goals of the Renewable Fuels Standard are well within reach and will provide tremendous benefits to rural America.
"We are going to see $95 billion in capital investment in rural America and we're going to see somewhere between 8,000 and 9,000 jobs," Vilsack said. "We already have about a half a million jobs that are connected directly or indirectly to this industry so it's a job creator, it's a capital investment in rural America, which is long overdue, it's an opportunity for every part of the country to participate in this and make us less dependant on fossil fuels and oil."
To listen to and audio interview with Secretary Vilsack, click HERE.