Vilsack talks about USDA efforts to further advanced biofuels

By Holly Jessen | April 11, 2014

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack testified about the farm bill and the rural economy, during a U.S. House of Representatives Committee hearing. As part of that, he talked about the USDA’s work to create markets for advanced biofuels.

“With the nearly $900 million in mandatory money  provided in the Energy Title of the Farm Bill, we can continue these efforts to expand the biobased economy and support economic development opportunities in rural America,” he said April 3.

Rep. Collin Peterson, a ranking member of the committee, called the passage of the farm bill “almost a miracle” and said he hoped implementation would be easier. “There are several complicated programs but I have confidence that USDA and Secretary Vilsack are up to the task,” he said.

Rep. Frank Lucas, chairman of the committee, said properly implementing the farm bill was a high priority of the committee. “I am concerned about the administration's regulatory initiatives that are often created by people who have no frame of reference for how farmers produce our nation's food supply,” he said. “We will continue to monitor progress on implementing the farm bill, as well as provide oversight of any initiatives.”

Vilsack provided eight pages of written testimony, which outline USDA work on areas ranging from research on the use of wood to meet green building standards, to helping families in rural areas buy, repair or refinance a home. On the biofuels side, Vilsack said the USDA has invested in projects to build nine advanced biofuel refineries since 2009, where feedstocks grown by farmers and landowners will be turned into non-fuel and non-feed derived biofuels. He also mentioned the six regional research centers created to develop region-appropriate advanced biobased energy technology.

An archived webcast and Vilsack’s written testimony can be accessed on the ag committee webpage.