Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Support for a New Advanced Biofuel Production Facility PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Communications Office   
Monday, 23 January 2012 13:07
Iowa-Based Project will Create Jobs, Expand Production of Biofuels

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2012 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA has approved a conditional commitment for a $25 million guaranteed loan to build a biorefinery plant with funding support from USDA's Biorefinery Assistance Program. The plant will be constructed by Fiberight, LLC based in Blairstown, Iowa.

"This project is another step the Obama administration is taking to support production of a new generation of renewable fuels, in order to build an active biofuels and biomass production industry in every region of the country," said Vilsack. "Investments in renewable energy create jobs and reduce America's dependence on foreign oil."

USDA funding will be used to construct a 55,000 square foot facility that will produce cellulosic ethanol by converting municipal solid waste and other industrial pulps into advanced biofuels, as well as using conventional renewable biofuel derived from seed corn waste. When operational, the facility is expected to produce approximately 3.6 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year. The process will use a cellulosic microbe to produce up to 15 percent more ethanol than traditional fermentation technology, and reduce energy inputs in the fermentation and distillation process. Fiberight estimates the project will create 38 jobs and save 16 jobs.

Under the conditional commitment, Fiberight must meet specified conditions before the loan guarantee can be completed. Other funding comes from the State of Iowa.Fiberight also received a $2.5 million grant from the Iowa Power Fund in 2010. The company will work with the Benton County landfill to supply a portion of the feedstock for the project. The total project cost is estimated at $59.5 million. Fiberight, LLC was incorporated in 2007 for the purpose of converting an existing ethanol facility into a cellulosic ethanol facility in Blairstown.

This funding is an example of the many ways that USDA is helping revitalize rural economies to create opportunities for growth and prosperity, support innovative technologies, identify new markets for agricultural producers, and better utilize our nation's natural resources.

The Obama Administration is working to promote domestic production of renewable energy to create jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, combat global warming, and build stronger rural economy. Today, Americans import just over half of our transportation fuels – down from 60 percent when President Obama took office – but we can do more to meet the President's goal of reducing our net fuel imports by one-third by 2025. At Secretary Vilsack's direction, USDA is working to develop the national biofuels industry producing energy from non-food sources in every region of the country. USDA is conducting and encouraging research into innovative new energy technologies and processes, helping companies build biorefineries – including the first ever commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol facilities – and supporting farmers, ranchers, and businesses taking risks to pursue new opportunities in biofuels. Along with Federal partners, USDA is establishing an aviation biofuels economy, and have expedited rules and efforts to promote production and commercialization of biofuels.

USDA's Biorefinery Assistance Program was authorized by Congress under the 2008 Farm Bill. It provides loan guarantees to capitalize on the growing opportunities in renewable energy provided by advanced biofuels. The Program is designed to assist with the commercial deployment of production technologies to produce advanced biofuels, and thereby increase the energy independence of the United States; promote resource conservation, public health, and the environment; diversify markets for agricultural and forestry products and agriculture waste material; create jobs and enhance the economic development of the rural economy.

To read more about the Administration's renewable energy accomplishments, click here.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of employees in the nation's capital and state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).


Checkoff Encourages Fairs to Use the Soybean to “Go Green” PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by United Soybean Board   
Monday, 23 January 2012 13:06
Applications now being accepted for program to put U.S. soy to work at fairs ST. LOUIS (Jan. 20, 2012) – Soy can be found in many products we might use every day.  The United Soybean Board (USB) and the soybean checkoff want more fairgoers to see the wide variety of soy-based products put to good use this year.

The national soy checkoff plans to deliver this message though its Green Ribbon Fairs reimbursement program, aimed at encouraging fairs across the country to promote and use soy-based products.

Through the annual program, now in its second year, town, county, state and regional fairs compete to be reimbursed for using and promoting soy-based products on their fairgrounds year-round, as well as during the fairs. Soy-based products that could be used include paints, insulation, ink, biodiesel, hand sanitizers, cleaning and maintenance products, dust suppressants and more.

“Partnering with other groups helps us to tell a new audience about the sustainability of soy products,” says Geno Lowe, a soybean farmer from Hebron, Md., and USB farmer-director. “What’s great about the Green Ribbon Fairs program is we can reach both rural and urban audiences.”

The checkoff funds research and development of soy-based products, including many on the market today. Soy products represent renewable, U.S.-grown alternatives that, in some cases, outperform their petroleum-based counterparts.

Applications for the Green Ribbon Fairs reimbursement program will be accepted until Monday, Feb. 6. Participants in the 2012 program will be notified in mid-March. Interested fairs can contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for more information.
USB is made up of 69 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.

For more information on the United Soybean Board, visit

USDA Gulf Coast Ecosystem Initiative PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Communications Office   
Monday, 23 January 2012 08:57

A new TV feature  is available on the USDA FTP site. The new TV feature can also be seen on USDA's YouTube channel and seen and downloaded as a video podcast.

FTP Download instructions:

The host:

User name: usdanews

Password:  Newscontent1

Filename for TV Feature: GOMI feature

The new file is in QuickTime Movie (H.264 ), MPEG 4, MPEG2 and HDV.


video podcast

RSS feed:

Please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it if you have problems or suggestions.

Also, use this free ftp client if you have problems.



INTRO:  U-S-D-A's Natural Resources Conservation Service is launching a water and wildlife conservation effort along the Gulf Coast of the United States. The USDA’s Bob Ellison has more. (1:32)




Will Blackwell, USDA NRCS District Conservationist: The goal of the GOMI is to improve the water quality as it drains off the land before it gets into the rivers, before it gets into the bays and estuaries.




Dallas Ford, Refugio Co., TX: The cattle will be on the land, the proper ranch itself and get their water from there and not be in the creek, which they do go into it now and I would like to stop them from doing that.




Salvador Salinas, USDA NRCS Texas State Conservationist: In some areas a lot of what is going on is we are having a lot of nutrient and pesticide erosion into those river systems and as a result that impacts the wildlife and fish habitat. We hope that by implementing the conservation programs that over a period of time that we will begin to see some possible affects with regard to water quality.



USDA Down To Earth Video Podcast

Center for Rural Affairs applauds Denial of Pipeline Construction PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Elisha Smith   
Monday, 23 January 2012 08:37

Controversial Keystone XL Pipeline route rejected

Lyons, NE - Americans concerned about the proposed route of the Keystone XL Pipeline received welcome news Wednesday when the Obama administration announced the rejection of a special U.S. State Department permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.

“We applaud President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton for making a common sense decision that protects both Nebraska and the entire nation,” said Johnathon Hladik, Energy Policy Advocate at the Center for Rural Affairs.

Approving the Keystone XL pipeline without an established route through Nebraska would amount to a failure on the part of our federal government to consider the best interests of the American people," Hladik concluded.

According to a  U.S. State Department news release, the Department has been conducting a transparent, thorough, and rigorous review of TransCanada’s permit application for the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline project since 2008. As a result of this process, particularly given the concentration of concerns regarding the proposed route through the Sand Hills area of Nebraska, on November 10, 2011, the Department announced that it could not make a national interest determination regarding the permit application without additional information.

Specifically, the Department called for an assessment of alternative pipeline routes that avoided the uniquely sensitive terrain of the Sand Hills in Nebraska. The Department estimated, in consultation with the State of Nebraska and TransCanada and based on prior projects of similar length and scope, that it could complete the necessary review to make a decision by the first quarter of 2013.

Congress passed the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011 on December 23, 2011. The Act provides 60 days for the President to determine whether the Keystone XL pipeline is in the national interest – which, according to the State Department release, the Administration considers insufficient for such a determination. The denial of the permit does not, however, preclude any subsequent permit application or applications for similar projects.

The Center for Rural Affairs rallied along with thousands of other Nebraskans during the past year building opposition to the proposed line, attending hearings across the state and expressing concern about the proposed route of the pipeline.  Many Center supporters and staff members testified in opposition to the pipeline’s projected route, which would travel through 300 miles of Nebraska, including 92 miles across the Sandhills, bringing oil from tar sands in northern Canada to refineries in the southern United States. A determined set of individuals and organizations representing varied interests and communities throughout Nebraska played a pivotal role in the final decision.

“This decision is a win for the innumerable citizens, activists and advocates who made their voice heard,” said Hladik. “While there is still work to be done, we can now be proud that we did our part to protect our air, land and water for this generation and the next.”

More than 1,500 Farmer Votes Counted Early in FFA Chapter Challenge PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Geoffrey Miller   
Thursday, 19 January 2012 08:44

Chapters in 12 states can still register to compete for $300,000 in FFA incentives provided by Monsanto

INDIANAPOLIS (January 19, 2012/National FFA Organization) – FFA members in 12 states, eager to win terrific prizes for their local chapter, are off to a very strong start in a program to designed to teach them about today’s agriculture by meeting with farmers in their communities.

The 2012 FFA Chapter Challenge, a second-year program now available to more than 3,300 FFA chapters and over 236,000 FFA members, started collecting votes on Monday, January 16. As of Wednesday afternoon, FFA members had already reached 1,541 farmers who voted for their local chapters. Missouri, with 460 votes, led Indiana (309) and Tennessee (308) in the early running. A complete state-by-state leaderboard is available at

Sponsored by Monsanto, the premise of the program is simple: chapter FFA members visit and build relationships with local farmers in a bid to learn about a farmer’s way of life and to build local support for their chapter’s agriculture education endeavors. Afterward, the FFA members ask the farmer to vote for their chapter.

The top 200 FFA chapters that make the most connections and receive the most farmer votes by February 29 will be awarded a line of credit ranging from $1,000 to $2,500 from the National FFA Organization. As a sponsor of the program, Monsanto will provide more than $300,000 in incentives.

But before FFA chapters are eligible for the program, they must register at FFA members in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas are eligible in 2012 – up from just seven states last year. Votes from local farmers and producers will not count until the FFA chapter has completed the registration process.

“Monsanto is very excited to support this program for a second year,” said Linda Arnold, customer advocacy lead for Monsanto. “As a company whose only business is agriculture, we are committed to educational programs like FFA Chapter Challenge that generate excitement in learning about farming. We encourage FFA members to reach out to farmers in their communities and learn more about their livelihood.”

Chapters can earn monetary credit which can be used throughout the year to buy FFA jackets and merchandise, obtain banquet supplies and send members to events like the Washington Leadership Conference or the national FFA convention, and more. Awards will go to the top 10 chapters in each of the 12 eligible states, plus 80 at-large winning chapters.

The chapter that makes the most connections and receives the most farmer votes of any participating FFA chapter will win the grand prize – an all-expense paid trip for six students and an advisor to attend the 85th National FFA Convention in Indianapolis in October 2012, plus a $2,500 FFA certificate of credit.

“Relationships are central to growing a career in any field, let alone agriculture. We love how this program emphasizes that while also supporting FFA chapters who work the hardest,” said Rob Cooper, executive director of the National FFA Foundation. “We're very grateful of Monsanto's support of this program and truly believe it will be a great tool to grow tomorrow's agriculture leaders."

Winners will be announced March 9. For more information – including videos, news releases and more – visit

About National FFA Organization

The National FFA Organization, formerly known as Future Farmers of America, is a national youth organization of 540,379 student members as part of 7,489 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. The National FFA Organization operates under a federal charter granted by the 81st United States Congress and it is an integral part of public instruction in agriculture. The U.S. Department of Education provides leadership and helps set direction for FFA as a service to state and local agricultural education programs. For more, visit the National FFA Organization online (, on Facebook (, on Twitter ( and FFA Nation (



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