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USDA mulls insurance program for biofuel crop producers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will soon explore the feasibility of offering crop insurance to producers of biofuel feedstocks ranging from straw to corn stover to woody biomass. This feasibility evaluation, to be funded by the Risk Management Agency, builds upon the USDA's ongoing effort to insure growers of switchgrass, energy cane and camelina.

USDA sectretary Tom Vilsack claims that insuring the nation's biofuel feedstock growers is a necessary step towards energy independence and is in line with President Obama's goals, stating, "Renewable energy development contributes to the Obama Administration's effort to 'win the future' by supporting America's farmers as they grow and harvest materials that can be converted into renewable energy."

Back in 2007, the Energy Independence and Security Act established a mandate requiring that 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel be utilized in the transportation sector per year by 2022. Of that amount, it's expected that up to 20 billion gallons will come from feedstock sources such as switchgrass, cane, straw and corn stover. With biomass crop growers, corporations, biofuel refineries, and research facilities uniting to commercialize biofuels, the USDA's proposed insurance program could mitigate some of the associated risks.

[Source: Domestic Fuel | Image: G-rome – C.C. License 2.0]

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