Farmers Tour Ethanol Facilities
Farmers and agricultural leaders are hoping a recent fact-finding tour to the Upper Midwest will help fuel the development of ethanol and soy-diesel production in Alabama.Alabama Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks and Alabama Farmers Federation President Jerry Newby led the two-day tour, which included stops at an ethanol plant in Minnesota and a bio-diesel facility in Iowa.”There are few bio-fuel production facilities in the Southeastern part of the United States,” Sparks said. “We wanted to see first hand those operations in Iowa and Minnesota to determine if it would be profitable and practical for Alabama farmers and business owners to invest in such crops and in production facilities.”Federation State Wheat and Feed Grains Committee Chairman Brian Glenn of Lawrence County said the tour showed him how bio-fuels can stimulate the agricultural economy while providing a clean alternative to oil.”Ethanol has been a huge boost to the rural Minnesota economy where they have such large quantities of corn,” Glenn said. “Many of the plants are primarily local, farmer-owned cooperatives, so the gains remain in the farming community, not in the hands of outside investors.”Glenn was so impressed with the benefits of bio-diesel after returning from the tour that he traveled to Springfield, Tenn., to purchase 250 gallons of pure soy-diesel. “We are going to blend it with diesel in our farm tanks to create a 5 percent bio-diesel blend,” he said. “Springfield is the closest source of bio-diesel that I have been able to find, but hopefully that will change as soon as demand increases.”In addition to providing farmers an alternative crop, Sparks said bio-fuels reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil.Joining Sparks, Newby and Glenn on the tour were
Deputy Agriculture Commissioner Doug Rigney, Federation Soybean Director Steve Guy, Pickens County farmer Annie Dee, Talladega County farmer David Wilson and Montgomery County farmer Thomas Dozier.