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Farm Bureau has new concern: fuel

Farm Bureau has new concern: fuel
Farm Bureau has new concern: fuel
Indiana Farm Bureau first vice president Randy Kron, second from left, talks with Harrison County Council Chairman Gary Davis during a 'tool-shed' meeting Thursday at the Donald and Alice Wolfe farm near Lanesville. Elizabeth farmer Larry Day, far right, speaks with IFB president Don Villwock. (Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor)

The three Fs ‘ food, feed and fiber ‘ have been on the minds of Indiana Farm Bureau officials for a long time.
‘Now I’m adding a fourth F: fuel,’ said Don Villwock, president of the statewide organization, at a ‘tool-shed’ meeting Thursday at the Donald and Alice Wolfe farm northwest of Lanesville.
‘High fuel prices are a concern of everyone,’ he said.
Randy Kron and Carol Hegel, first and second vice presidents for Indiana Farm Bureau, also attended the luncheon sponsored by Harrison County Farm Bureau.
The intensified focus on fuel isn’t just a result of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that devastated numerous Gulf Shore towns and cities and hindered oil production late last week. The focus isn’t just on fossil fuels.
‘Ethanol and biodiesel will be important for the future,’ Villwock said.
Eighteen additional ethanol plants could soon join those operating in South Bend, Linden and Washington. Ground has been broken for plants in Cloverdale and Rensselaer.
‘I really think these plants are a win-win-win opportunity for farmers,’ Villwock said. They’re better for communities and the environment, as well as a great opportunity for farmers who should be able to sell their corn for more money while creating a new market for farmers.
Another alternative to traditional fuel sources that is being explored again in the United States is wind.
‘Wind farms’ have been largely experimental in the past but now some major investors, including John Deere, are funding research on turbines.
(The August National Geographic says less than one percent of the world’s electric power is generated by wind.)
‘Agriculture can be part of the major solution to the energy crisis,’ Villwock said. ‘I’m excited as I’ve ever been about the future of agriculture.’
During a question-and-answer period, Villwock spent more time talking about Hurricane Katrina.
‘Besides being a personal tragedy … it’s probably going to be an economic loss,’ Villwock said.
Gas and grain prices ‘and a lot of other things we buy’ will be affected, he said. ‘We’re all going to pay a price even though we weren’t directly hit.’
According to Villwock’s sources, the ports in the Gulf of Mexico survived the force of the Category 5 hurricane, but ‘it’s a matter of when they’ll get electricity there and the number of sunken barges.’
Kron added that ‘on-farm storage’ is going to be necessary for many farmers who normally have their products shipped out.
‘We’re going to have to rail it out,’ Villwock said. That could be difficult for this part of the country, he said, which doesn’t have a very good rail system.
Hegel reminded everyone that agriculture is Indiana’s largest industry. Nineteen percent of all jobs in the state can be traced back to the farm, she said.
‘It’s hard to make people think of agriculture as a business,’ she said.
Gary Geswein, a teacher and FFA chapter advisor at Lanesville Junior-Senior High School, brought 13 FFA members with him.
‘Part of our strategic plan is to work closer with the FFA, to help educate them,’ Villwock said. ‘Many of us have benefited a lot of years (from being in FFA).’

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