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Fourth of 2007 farm bill discussion papers examines potential energy sources

During a visit to Sioux Center, Iowa, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns today released an analysis prepared by U.S. Department of Agriculture economists of the department's renewable energy and energy efficiency programs.

This is the fourth in a series of subject areas that warranted a comprehensive examination based on comments received during last year's nationwide Farm Bill Forum listening tour.

"During the Farm Bill Forums, we heard real enthusiasm from producers about the potential for agriculture to unleash new sources of energy and income," Johanns said today. "We have seen ethanol production more than double in four years. USDA is committed to encouraging the entrepreneurial innovation of America's farmers and ranchers to help build a new energy economy."

The paper released today looks at all the potential sources of energy under agriculture's umbrella, from farm fields to pasture and forest lands. It also tracks the results of USDA's renewable energy and energy efficiency programs and contemplates enhancements and alternatives to those programs.

These alternatives do not represent specific farm bill proposals but instead are put forward to further public discussion.

In March 2006 Johanns announced the release of 41 papers summarizing the 4,000 comments received during 52 Farm Bill Forums, as well as those sent via mail and the Internet. Within those 41 papers emerged key themes USDA economists are studying in depth in preparation for 2007 farm bill discussions. The first three theme papers covered risk management, conservation and the environment, and rural development. The fifth and final farm bill theme paper will examine opportunities to strengthen the foundation of U.S. agriculture.

During a visit to Sioux Center, Iowa, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns today released an analysis prepared by U.S. Department of Agriculture economists of the department's renewable energy and energy efficiency programs.

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