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Executive Director’s Column


We are an energy-hungry society. From appliances and automobiles to cellular phones and home computers, it takes power to run our lives. Since our culture’s pace is not likely to change, our energy dependence will only increase.

That can be a problem. Or an opportunity.

Minnesota producers have already recognized some of those opportunities. For years our 11 farmer-owned ethanol plants have been providing corn-based power for cars. This industry is one of the most successful examples of value-added agriculture in the country.

We believe the ethanol industry will soon have good company. Minnesota’s biodiesel industry is on the cusp of major growth. Renewable energy from biomass like crop residues, woody crops or processing waste are also becoming more attractive. At AURI, we are determined to do whatever we can to help make those industries grow.

Early this fall, AURI was awarded a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help launch the Center for Producer-Owned Energy. The center will research and develop emerging energy forms. And it will support farmer-owned renewable-energy businesses, which will benefit grain, livestock and dairy producers, as well as Minnesota ag processors. The support we received from Minnesota businesses and agricultural groups for our proposal was gratifying. It helps to know other organizations see the value and opportunity in our work.

This issue of Ag Innovation News is dedicated to renewable energy opportunities. These prospects could positively impact large numbers of producers, but they will take time to develop.

That’s where AURI and the Center for Producer-Owned Energy comes in. We have the energy to make it happen.