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USDA Highlights Missouri Biomass Plant

By Cindy Zimmerman |

The Obama administration’s Rural Tour last week highlighted the Show Me Energy Cooperative in Missouri as an example of how crop residue can be used to create energy.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the biomass facility is taking wood, corn stalks and other crop residue and converting it into pellets that can be used to produce energy or a substitute for propane on the farm.

“We have seen plants like this one that are using it as a substitute for propane, we have seen plants that are in the process of trying to use corn cobs for producing anhydrous ammonia,” Vilsack said. “It is continually amazing to me how innovative this country is and how innovative rural America is and can be with a little bit of incentive.”Tom Vilsack Missouri

Vilsack says the small plant costs about $8 million to replicate. “It takes crop residue from about a 50-100 mile radius, creates a new market for farmers, an opportunity for them to increase their bottom line, and at the same time, a chance for a local utility to meet its renewable energy portfolio standard requirements.”

Earlier in the week, Vilsack took the Rural Tour to his home state of Iowa where he served as governor for eight years. During an interview with the Des Moines Register, Vilsack discussed a variety of topics, including ethanol. The secretary stressed the need for higher ethanol blends and more FFVs. “This is a supply issue. What we need are more vehicles that have flex-fuel capability (to use up to 85 percent ethanol), more retail stations with blender pumps that allow the motorist to adjust to the blend they want.”

The Administration’s Rural Tour has been traveling around the country since June.

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