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USDA gets into biofuels business

July 27, 2011 at 8:18 AM

WASHINGTON, July 27 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it designated project areas in six states for production of feedstocks for use in biofuels.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said sites in California, Kansas, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon and Washington state were designated as biomass crop assistance program project areas. Those sites would provide the feedstock to produce more than 2 million gallons of biofuels.

Vilsack said the move was part of a program outlined by U.S. President Barack Obama to get more energy from renewable resources.

"The selection of these project areas is another step in the effort to assist the nation's advanced biofuel industry to produce energy in commercial quantities from sustainable rural resources," he said in a statement.

Projects areas designated by Vilsack would grow camelina, which can be used as a rotation crop for wheat. Biofuels produced from the plant are used as a jet fuel substitute. Other areas include switchgrass development and forest restoration plans.

The Agriculture Department said it set aside roughly $45 million for the program. Five programs announced early this year marked the first time the U.S. government invested in the expansion of domestic biomass resources for fuel.

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