U.S. states form NCBEC

By Jessica Ebert
Twelve upper-Midwestern states chose Earth Day, April 22, to announce the formation of the North Central Bio-Economy Consortium (NCBEC). The new coalition-which includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin-brings together the commissioners, directors and secretaries of each state's Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Services and University Agricultural Experiment Stations.

The NCBEC aims to facilitate the growth of the biofuels industry in the north-central states by serving as a clearinghouse of information on research projects in the region, and actively participating in the development of state and federal policies that impact the industry. "It's clear that energy independence is a real key for the future of this country, and the north-central states will play a key role in that total process," said Steven Slack, director of the Ohio Agriculture and Research Development Center at Ohio State University. "The consortium is a means for leveraging infrastructure on a regional basis."

Slack recently provided testimony on behalf of the NCBEC at a U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture hearing regarding the USDA Farm Bill energy programs. In his statement, he described three "crucial priorities" for the growth of biofuels in the north-central region, as well as the nation. These included the creation of a regional biobased product procurement system, the establishment of regional feedstock demonstration projects and the importance of local economic development. "[The NCBEC is] uniquely situated to offer information and guidance about the developing bioeconomy in the region where it is developing the fastest," Slack said.