Agriculture historically has provided food and fiber to America. Now, with the development of new biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, and with greater commercial interest in wind and solar energy, America’s farms and ranches are increasingly seen as a promising source of clean, renewable, home-grown energy. This role is expected to take on increasing prominence in years to come, given mounting concerns over oil prices and availability, and the environmental and geo-political implications of America’s continued reliance on foreign sources of fossil fuels.
Replacing the use of imported petroleum with domestically produced sources of energy made from biomass, would address many economic, environmental and national security issues. Development of a biomass industry will also ensure that U.S. agricultural producers have profitable new markets for their products, and that agricultural land is kept in productive use. Emphasis should be placed on the development of alternative fuels from agricultural commodities, livestock manures, forest products, agricultural crop residues, food processing byproducts, waste stream products, and other biomass products.