Workshop to focus on biofuel crops

Farmers will have an opportunity to learn about biofuel crops kenaf and camelina that are currently being grown on a farm in Lorida during a workshop next week.

The Florida Feedstock Growers Association, United States Department of Agriculture, IFAS/UF and The Florida Farm Bureau will co-host a workshop focusing on growing renewable energy crops and biofuel crops on Feb. 14.

The speakers will include Chris Tindal, director of Operational Energy for the U.S. Navy; Jonathan Coppess, USDA Farm Service Agency administrator; and Sarah Bittleman, senior advisor to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.

A live demonstration of a kenaf to power process will be presented by Chris Morrison of Planet Green Solutions.

A tour of the USCJO farm will be conducted and those attending can learn how Florida farms have begun to work with the U.S. military. There will be an update on the pending and existing federal incentive programs offered by the USDA.

Kenaf is a fast-growing woody annual plant. Camelina is an oilseed crop that is used for jet fuel.

USCJO Inc., a farming company based in Hendry County, is leasing 600 acres in Lorida to grow the crops.

Amy Lyons, vice president of USCJO, said the company is farming almost 10,000 acres in Florida.

Lyons said growing renewable energy crops is a new industry for farmers to consider. Lyons knows that a question farmers ask is what will the yield be from these types of crops.

"We encourage them to dip their toes, not jump in" she said. "We want everyone to have a good first experience."

The event, which will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., will be held at the USCJO farm. It is located at 6727 County Road 721.

The event is open to the public.

Those planning to attend are asked to RSVP to Katie Duncan at 402-6540 because lunch will be served.

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