If renewable fuels are to account for 25% of the U.S. energy supply by 2025 (25x'25), a number of crops will have to be utilized, and alfalfa should be one of them. That was the primary message delivered at a biofuel summit in Washington, D.C., last week. Presented by the National Alfalfa & Forage Alliance (NAFA), its purpose was to make lawmakers and others aware of alfalfa's potential as a renewable energy source, says Beth Nelson, the new organization's president.
Eighty-eight people attended, says Nelson, including representatives from the Department of Energy (DOE) and USDA-ARS, university researchers and congressional staff. "It was NAFA's first large event, and we had really good representation from the industry as well," says Nelson.
She believes "some good first steps" were made in achieving the summit's goal. DOE's biofuel focus so far has been mostly on switchgrass. "But I think they realize, as did most of our attendees, that if we are going to meet 25x'25, it's going to come from a number of crops," says Nelson. "Alfalfa is positioned nicely for that because it's grown on 21 million acres across the country and we have a good infrastructure. So some of the hurdles that switchgrass has to overcome as far as infrastructure is concerned, we already have in place."
Speakers included a National Corn Growers Association director, officials from USDA-ARS and DOE, and a vice president of Abengoa, a bioenergy company. To get a CD of the proceedings, email NAFA at firstname.lastname@example.org.