The Florida Biofuels Association, together with several other organizations and state universities, are holding a meeting this month focused on growing energy feedstocks in the Sunshine State.
“Feedstocks for Florida Biofuels – A Florida Biofuels Association Town Hall Meeting” is scheduled for Friday September 17 at Florida Farm Bureau headquarters in Gainesville. The event will include an open forum to hear from Florida farmers regarding concerns and questions pertaining to energy crops, the ABCs of profitable feedstock farming, and incentives available for the feedstock farmers. Speakers include representatives from the Florida and U.S. Departments of Agriculture and the University of Florida.
The potential for energy crops in the state was one of the topics at the recent Florida Farm to Fuel Summit. One of the presenters was Bill Vasden Jr., Chairman of the Florida Feedstock Growers Association. Vasden was interviewed by Gary Cooper with Southeast Agnet at the summit about the production and distribution of renewable energy from Florida-grown crops. “We’ve been growing feedstock crops like camelina and kenaf here in Florida for four years,” he says. As a cattle and citrus farmer, he started growing energy crops to help cut his on-farm diesel costs. “Later it became apparent that a lot of these crops can be grown here in Florida, with additional revenue streams.” They now have 2500 acres in kenaf, which is a spring biomass crop, then in the fall they rotate into camelina, which is an oilseed crop. “Camelina grown in Florida produces the highest yields in the country and can be grown in fall and winter and is very drought tolerant and cold tolerant,” said Vasden. As a bonus, it is also approved for as a by-product for animal feed.
Vasden says the market demand for these energy crops exceeds demand, so it has been very profitable for his operation. “We look to 2500 acres, without any government subsidy, to gross $2.8 million when farmed with two crops of camelina and one crop of kenaf, and those are pretty impressive figures,” he explained.
Here is a link to Vasden’s powerpoint presentation at Florida Farm to Fuel.