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Minnesotans To Weight-In on Ag Policy

January 10, 2007

The U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee meets today to consider conservation and energy policy. The Committee, considering a new farm bill, includes both Minnesota Senators, and one of those testifying is also a Minnesotan. Loni Kemp with the Minnesota Project says she'll tell lawmakers we need to go beyond corn.

"That would be creating ethanol from other kinds of weeds and stocks and stems and woody material. Virtually, anything you can grow can be changed into ethanol."

She explains it's a promising technology called cellulosity, which can move the country towards energy independence, clean air and a stronger rural economy.

Kemp adds she'll recommend Senators include investments in alternative energy production in the new farm bill.

"Just like we had policies 20 years ago that launched the corn ethanol industry, our policy needs to invest in research and in incentives for farmers to start growing mixtures of grasses and other kinds of biomass. We need incentives for companies to start up and for local ownership of cellulosic ethanol plants to launch this new industry, which is going to be very environmentally-friendly. "

Kemp says she'll testify that Congress has the opportunity to help farmers be better stewards of the land, as they help solve the nation's energy and climate change problems.

Minnesota has a big say on the 'AG' Committee with its two members - Senators Norm Coleman and Amy Klobuchar.

Others testifying include Keith Collins, chief economist, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Gene Gourley with the Iowa Pork Producers Association. The hearing is at 9:30 a.m., SR328 Russell Senate Office Building. The new chairman of the committee is Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA).

Jim Wishner/Eric Mack, Public News Service - MN