Eric Rund (left), Green Flame Energy, IL, attended a meeting at the White House, in Washington, DC, on July 6, 2011. He was asked to participate along with President Barack Obama, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the President's Domestic Policy Adviser Melody Barnes and rural communities leaders from across the country for the White House Rural Champions of Change event to strengthen rural communities and promote economic growth. When the gasoline additive MTBE was banned in 2006 and ethanol was its only practical replacement, Eric as a corn farmer, became very interested in joining with other farmers to build a corn ethanol plant. Their project never came to fruition but the effort made him look more closely at how farmers might participate in producing energy. He discovered other crops that could produce more energy more efficiently than corn, and do it on poorer soils. From research at the University of Illinois, Eric selected the most promising biomass crops to try on his farm. He also traveled to Europe to learn from farmers there who had been growing these same energy crops for many years. What he learned gave him the confidence to form Green Flame Energy and offer seed stock, equipment and services to other farmers wishing to grow and utilize biomass energy. This spring he is working with over fifty producers and four end users to sponsor a USDA-BCAP project area. He has shown that with a little seed money provided by programs like this, biomass crops can sustainably provide a good portion of our nationâs energy while benefitting the environment and creating much needed rural jobs. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.
May 3, 2014
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