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American Corn Growers to launch new ethanol program in Mid-Atlantic states

(Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2002 -- CropChoice news) -- Larry Mitchell, CEO of the American Corn Growers Association (ACGA) announced a new program to help farmers in the Mid-Atlantic States evaluate the feasibility of ethanol production and, where possible, develop producer-owned ethanol cooperatives. Byron E. Ross, State Director of the USDA Rural Development Mission Area in Pennsylvania, announced today in Harrisburg that ACGA had been selected for funding consideration through the Value-Added Agriculture Product Market Development Grant (VADG). ACGA, in cooperation with the Keystone Development Center, the Clean Fuels Development Coalition and the Nebraska Ethanol Board will use the matching funds from the VAGD to launch the Alliance for Renewable Energy From Agriculture (AREA) Project.

"We want to help farmers in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey and Delaware, and help America by providing energy solutions for the nation that are decentralized, diverse, domestic and renewable," said Mitchell. "These are the four criteria we deem necessary in any national energy agenda. Once again, rural America and its farmers are here ready, willing and able to provide for the nation's essential needs. America's family farmers are indeed feeding and fueling America's Freedom."

The AREA project involves developing and distributing educational materials on ethanol and, where groups of producers are interested, giving the technical assistance needed to evaluate its feasibility and form producer-owned ethanol cooperatives. The program seeks to:

  • Provide farmers with the opportunities to improve their net farm income;
  • Provide farmers, and farm organizations, with the tools to evaluate - at least on a preliminary basis - the feasibility of ethanol production; and
  • Build both consumer awareness of the role ethanol-blended fuels can play in meeting Clean Air Act requirements and demand for ethanol-blended fuels.

"Some may ask why the Mid-Atlantic region," Mitchell said. "We believe that the ethanol sector should not be solely a midwestern industry. We want to use this project to target the Mid-Atlantic States, where supply and demand dynamics are inverse to the Midwest. The Mid-Atlantic region may be corn deficit, meaning that livestock producers and feed mills already need to bring corn into the region to meet their needs, but at the same time, there are many cities in the region struggling to meet Clean Air Act standards, and the potential for increased use of ethanol-blended fuels is high."

Cheryl Cook, Executive Director of the Keystone Development Center, added that the partnership created by the AREA project was an opportunity to bring two regions of the country together in collaboration rather than competition.

"Corn farmers in both regions will benefit from cooperative efforts, and the project will definitely benefit from the involvement of a nationwide corn producers' organization to help bring the regions together," she said. Cook explained that dairy farmers in the Mid-Atlantic region also could benefit from a new source of high-quality feed resulting from distillers grains remaining after ethanol is produced.

The AREA project has an estimated budget of $343, 400 for the first twelve months, of which $150,000 is intended to come from USDA's VAGD program.

The American Corn Growers Association represents 14,000 members in 35 states. See http://www.acga.org