I am disappointed when my friends say farmers should grow food and not fuel. For all of human civilization, the land has provided clothing, fuel, transportation and food. Only recently have we been taking petroleum and coal out of the ground to replace our agricultural fuel and fiber.
My grandfather’s farm provided fuel that powered the farm by horses, mules and oxen as well as the wood for heat and cooking and fuel for neighbors in the town. Farms provided the wool and cotton fiber, leather and fur for clothing before the synthetic products used today. My great-grandfather’s farm devoted at least half of the farm to produce the oats, timothy and hay that powered their daily lives. Many farms distilled their own alcohol from excess grain to burn in stoves, lamps and early internal combustion engines. During Prohibition, the rural distillery equipment was destroyed because the fledgling petroleum industry did not want competition.
The model T Ford ran fine on straight grain alcohol.
To say that farmers should not grow fuel on their land is a mistake. We can do so much more than just grow food. We can do it efficiently, sustainably and responsibly. We can do it with new technology that is evolving with each new day. The last hundred years of surplus and subsidies is because of those who wanted to limit what the land could produce. We need to challenge agriculture to do more in the future and biofuels have a place in that future.
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