Higher biofuel use is goal of USDA innovation agenda

Source: By Chuck Abbott, Successful Farming • Posted: Sunday, February 23, 2020

The USDA is setting a goal of a 30% blend of biofuels into the U.S. fuel supply by 2050, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Thursday.

Larger biofuel use was one of the four objectives of a department-wide “innovation agenda” to increase agricultural production by 40% while reducing agriculture’s environmental impact by half.

“This agenda is a strategic, department-wide effort to better align USDA’s resources, programs, and research to provide farmers with the tools they need to be successful,” said Perdue. “We are also continually mindful of the need for America’s agriculture industry to be environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable to maintain our position as a leader in the global effort to meet demand.”

On renewable energy, the agenda calls for improved production efficiency and larger production of feedstocks “to achieve market-driven blend rates of 15% of transportation fuels in 2030 and 30% of transportation fuels by 2050.” At present, biofuels, chiefly corn ethanol, account for slightly more than 10% of fuel burned by cars and light trucks.

Biofuels are “one of the easiest to achieve,” Perdue said during a news conference. He pointed to the administration decision last spring to allow year-round sale of E15, a 15% blend of ethanol and gasoline.

The other innovation goals are a 50% reduction in food loss and waste by 2030; reducing nutrient loss by 30% by 2050 to improve water quality; enhancing carbon sequestration through soil health and forestry; and using new technology to “achieve net reduction of the agricultural sector’s current carbon footprint by 2050 without regulatory overreach.”

“These are stretch goals, no doubt about it,” said Perdue.