21 August 2004

Program can help continue growth of renewable fuel industry in Nebraska

With the recent growth of the ethanol industry in Nebraska, Rep. Tom Osborne, R-Neb., is urging the state to continue the momentum by encouraging producers to participate in the fiscal year 2005 Bioenergy Program.

Osborne will be speaking at open house ceremonies from 2 to 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Platte Valley Fuel Ethanol plant in Central City. He recently spoke at the 10th anniversary of the ethanol facility in York.

Osborne’s Third Congressional District is one of the leading ethanol-producing congressional districts in the nation. Plants already producing ethanol are located in Trenton, Central City, Aurora, Sutherland, Axtell, two in Hastings, York, Plainview and Columbus. Plants under construction are located at Ravenna, Cambridge, Lexington, Madrid and McCook.

Last week, the USDA reported that Osborne’s Third Congressional District leads all other congressional districts in corn acreage and cattle numbers.

The sign-up period for the 2005 Bioenergy Program has begun and will continue until Aug. 31. The program stimulates industrial consumption of agricultural commodities by promoting their use in bioenergy production.

Osborne said as bioenergy production continues to reach record levels, rural America continues to benefit greatly from its positive impact.

“The production of renewable fuels bolsters economic growth by adding jobs to the work force, providing increased incomes, and offering additional, more diversified agricultural opportunities,” he said. “As we increase our nation’s production of bioenergy, we simultaneously decrease our dependence on foreign sources of energy.”

Over the past decade, U.S. ethanol production has grown by 607 million gallons, while biodiesel production increased by 18.5 million gallons.

Under the program, USDA will make payments totaling up to $150 million to commercial bioenergy (ethanol and biodiesel) producers who increase their production from eligible commodities (barley, corn, soybeans, and cellulosic crops among others) between Oct. 1, 2004, and Sept. 20, 2005.

Payments will be based on bioenergy production increases from eligible commodities compared to the same time period a year earlier. Additionally, biodiesel producers are also potentially eligible for FY 2005 program payments for 15 percent of their base production of biodiesel that is not an increase over the prior fiscal year to date.

Steve Sorum of the Nebraska Ethanol Board said the bioenergy program has been “very effective” in encouraging the expansion of the state’s existing facilities as well as the construction of new facilities, such as the Central City plant.

“Nebraska plants are currently producing over 500 million gallons of ethanol annually, with the potential to reach 800 million in coming years,” Sorum said.

For information on the program, contact the Nebraska Ethanol Board at (402) 471-2941.

Source: theIndependent.com, August 17, 2004.

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