The use of biofuels needs to expand throughout all of the United States. That’s what Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told an audience of about 50 producers, stakeholders and agency leaders during a renewable energy roundtable discussion at CHS Inc. in Inver Grove Heights, Minn. on Wednesday. Vilsack was joined by Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Amy Klobuchar at the event.
Vilsack shared how USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) helps reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil. He also highlighted how a new provision in the program finances the installation of flex fuel pumps at convenience stores and fuel filling facilities throughout rural America.
Vilsack said that America faces many challenges because of its heavy dependence on foreign oil. He also highlighted President Obama’s goal of reducing the country’s foreign oil dependence by one-third. The new flex fuel provision in the REAP program is another step in reaching that goal.
“We need to keep working to get more E-85 pumps more conveniently located,” Vilsack said.
Partnership and collaboration also will help us reach the President’s goal, Vilsack said. The USDA is working with several organizations, including the Department of Energy, to advance the biofuels industry in the United States.
Increasing the flow of private capital and improving farmers’ bottom lines is another factor that will help move the renewable fuels industry forward. Vilsack said it is essential that the USDA continue to provide loan guarantee programs to farmers and engage private industry to invest in biofuels initiatives.
“The future of biofuels is unlimited,” Vilsack said. “There are a lot of opportunities in this country.”
Vilsack concluded the discussion by reminding attendees that investing in renewable fuels and America’s farmers will not be possible if we let our rural infrastructure decline. Healthcare facilities, schools, broadband Internet, business development and wastewater treatment help build strong rural communities that support agriculture, create jobs and advance the use of renewable fuels.
To find out more about USDA’s renewable energy programs click here.