St. Paul (June 18, 2012) – Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) will be holding its second leadership retreat aimed at focusing on the future of farming and rural communities. The retreat will be held at Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria, June 25-27.
“A couple years ago we brought together our Farmers Union leaders and some newer members to discuss the paths needed to keep family farmers and Farmers Union strong. Our first retreat was successful and our second retreat will intensify focusing on the future of farming and Farmers Union,” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President. “Our discussions will surround the Farmers Union organization successes and building on those successes to keep Farmers Union families and farms strong and prosperous as rural people."
Thank you to the Minnesota Corn Growers Association and Minnesota Soybean Growers Association for their sponsorship of the retreat.
During this retreat, attendees will get to look at MFU’s rich heritage as a farm organizaion; its present role for advocating for rural people and rural policy; and will get insight from Don Davis of Forum Communications and Tom Rothman of Minnesota Farm Network as to the ‘why’ and ‘what’ makes rural news, and how it becomes published.
ST. PAUL (April 29, 2011) – Governor Mark Dayton has announced he has reappointed Thom Petersen, Minnesota Farmers Union Director of Government Relations, to the NextGen Energy Board effective April 14.
The Next Generation Energy Board was established in 2007 by the Minnesota Legislature as part of the Next Generation Energy Act. The NextGen Board's role is to develop biofuels policies and recommendations to the Minnesota Legislature. The Board will research and recommend how the state can invest its resources to most efficiently achieve energy independence, agricultural and natural resources sustainability, and rural economic vitality. Petersen was first appointed in 2007 by then Governor Tim Pawlenty.
Petersen lives on a farm in Pine City with his wife Alana and sons Dylan and Waylon.
(April 21, 2011) - The current high prices and projections of low carry-over stocks have rekindled the food vs. fuel debate. Certainly the ethanol industry, directly, and corn farmers, indirectly, will face increasing calls for lowering the renewable fuels mandate and a reduction in or elimination of the blenders tax credit. If there are planting problems this spring or weather/pollination problems this summer, the pressure for change will intensify.
As we listen to this debate, the implied assumption is that the sole purpose of farming is to provide food and certainly that has been true for over half a century. But if we look back at the nineteenth century, a different more complicated picture confronts us. At that time most farms had a woodlot that provided firewood for the farm household and maybe some to sell to townspeople.
In addition, the farm had a significant amount of its land dedicated to pastureland to provide food—energy—for the animals that were used to pull the implements used in farming and to pull the buggies, wagons, and sleighs that were used to go to town, school, and church. The draft animals were also fed oats and hay that was grown on the farm. Even the addition of steam tractors did little to change this structure as they were usually fueled with firewood.
FROM THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE:
New Initiative Will Enable Biofuels to Power Navy Fleet, Spur Economic Opportunity in Rural America
HONOLULU, April 6, 2010 - Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations & Environment Jackalyne Pfannenstiel today kicked off the first of several energy forums to look at ways to increase biofuels production and meet the Navy's renewable energy needs. The forum comes as a result of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) recently signed by the USDA and the Department of the Navy to encourage the development of advanced biofuels and other renewable energy systems.
"As we continue to expand efforts to build a clean energy economy, create new jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil, we can use the Navy's fleet as a catalyst to increase demand for biofuels and spur economic opportunity in rural communities throughout the country," said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. "President Obama has an ambitious renewable energy agenda, and the USDA/Navy partnership we are highlighting today is a critical step to enhance America's energy security."
From Growth Energy
Since the publication of a controversial study last year (Searchinger et al 2008), a new term has entered the policy debate around biofuels - indirect land use change (ILUC). The debate is focused on whether or not the carbon intensity of fuels like ethanol can or should include a penalty for theoretical indirect, economic effects. Land use is just one of many indirect effects that could also increase the greenhouse gas emissions of different fuels, including gasoline.
In December 2008, the European Union decided not to include an ILUC penalty against biofuels. More recently, in April 2009, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) voted for regulations that would add an "indirect land use change" penalty to biofuels as part of its Low Carbon Fuel Standard. ARB also agreed to investigate the indirect effects of other fuel types. In addition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to release a proposed rule that could include an indirect land use change penalty for biofuels in determining that fuel's capacity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to gasoline.
What Is ILUC Theory?
(March 1, 2009) - If it's even partly true that you're known by the company you keep, then the farmer-loved ethanol business got a lot less lovable Feb. 8 when Valero Energy Corp., the largest crude oil refiner in North America, announced its intent to purchase five of the choicest plants owned by mega-biofuel maker, mega-bankrupt VeraSun Energy.
Should Valero succeed in acquiring VeraSun's best ethanol plants-and there's little reason to suspect it won't-Big Oil's drooling camel will have its nose in your government-sponsored, government-protected tent.
And you know what they say about camels and tents.
In all likelihood, Valero is just Big Oil's first camel. More will follow, especially if the ethanol business continues to struggle and cash-rich, market-insulated crude refiners can buy state-of-the-art ethanol plants for dimes on the dollar.
In fact, you have to wonder what took the refiners so long to start picking up-and picking off-ethanol operations. They've had big reasons to own ethanol for years.
For example, large refiners like Valero own gas stations (Valero owns more than 5,000 retail and branded stations in North America) so it has a built-in thirst for millions of gallons of ethanol. Why buy it retail when you can make it wholesale?
(February 3, 2009) - Recent news stories have been flush with reports about developments in cellulosic ethanol and other biofuels production. Maybe these reports help provide an understanding of why Informa Economics recently forecast corn prices below $3.00 with wheat prices below $4.00 and soybeans under $7.00
Let's look at the biofuels news first and then see what implications this news has for the long-term pricing of farm grains and oilseeds.
Poet recently announced that its research center in Scotland, SD is producing cellulosic ethanol in its pilot-scale plant. The plant has the capacity to produce 20,000 gallons a year from corn cobs
Poet CEO Jeff Broin said, "After producing 1,000 gallons, we've already been able to validate all of what we learned in the lab and believe the process will be ready for commercialization when we start construction on Project Liberty next year."