The Front Blog

Conversations from the Four Rivers Region

Posts Tagged ‘Food Fuel and Society

Reining in Estimates on the Biofuel Economy

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Iowa State University economist David Swenson has spent twenty years monitoring the biofuel industry in the United States. During his presentation at Tuesday’s Food, Fuel, and Society conference, Swenson argued for more conservative estimates on the potential jobs created from biofuels.

A study released last year by BIO, the biotechnology industry organization, estimated the number of jobs that will be created in the coming years. Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial and Environmental Section concluded from the report, “Increasing advanced biofuel production to a modest target of 45 billion gallons by 2030, which can be achieved by maintaining the same pace of technology development, could create more than 400,000 jobs within the industry and 1.9 million new jobs throughout the economy. Further, it could provide an economic boost of $300 billion.”

Kentucky is a fringe member of the major corn-production belt, but that hasn’t kept it from signing on with biofuels. In 2008, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear released his Energy Plan, which sets a goal of meeting 25 percent of the state’s energy needs through “reductions through energy efficiency and conservation and through the use of renewable resources.” As part of that, the administration added a Division of Biofuels. A task force within the agency estimated Kentucky’s biofuel industry alone could create, “as many as 10,000 permanent jobs.”

But Swenson says no way. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Angela Hatton

October 14, 2010 at 1:11 pm

Making Kentucky Proud

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. . . at least that’s what I hope I’m doing here. I believe that I’m the only representative from the Bluegrass State attending the conference.

The biofuels discussion went by in a rush. To give an explanation in one sentence, it’s a complicated issue. Since corn ethanol has been studied more than anything else, that was the main topic discussed. One concern economists and scientists are looking at is that the federal tax incentives for biofuel production are set to expire December 31 this year. The question is, if the incentives aren’t renewed, will standards go down? I’ll have more from the biofuel discussion later.

The session on Immigrant Labor is beginning soon.  Watch it here.

Written by Angela Hatton

October 12, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Let’s Get Ready to Conference

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by ANGELA HATTON

Greetings from Columbia! The city is a busy college town with hip shops and trendy restaurants, but outside the city the rolling farmland isn’t that much different from western Kentucky. And the local NPR station, KBIA’s call letters? 91.3. I’m right at home.

Tomorrow is the Food, Fuel, and Society Conference. There’s still time to send me some questions about biofuel and immigrant farm labor. For example, one thing I’ve heard so far is that E-85 fuel seems to burn faster than traditional gasoline. So, the question is are ethanol-makers are aware of that, and are other biofuels (like switchgrass) better as gasoline replacements?

P. S. If you’re ever in Columbia, check out India House for some good Indian food in generous portions.

WKMS likes the food of India.

Written by Angela Hatton

October 11, 2010 at 8:31 pm

WKMS Goes to Missouri

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by ANGELA HATTON

Today I’ll be celebrating Columbus Day by driving to Columbia, Missouri, for the Food, Fuel, and Society Conference at University of Missouri, Columbia’s Reynolds Institute for Journalism. Now that’s a mouthful.

Ira Flatow, the host of NPR’s  Science Friday is the featured guest speaker at tomorrow’s conference. The focus will be better practices in agriculture reporting.  It’s not just plowing and planting, people. I’ll be talking to other reporters, farmers, professors, and analysts. And you can participate too. Here’s how:

I’ll be attending two panel discussions. One on bio-fuels, and the other on immigrant farm labor. If you’ve got a question you’d like me to ask, leave it as a comment at the bottom of this post.

To find out more about what’s new in the world of agriculture, visit Harvest Public Media’s Facebook page.  You can follow them on Twitter too.

Hey, WKMS is on Facebook and Twitter too!

More later from the Show-Me State!

Written by Angela Hatton

October 11, 2010 at 9:53 am