MSU-Northern Hosts First EPAC Agricultural Biofuel Summit


Grain producers and alternative energy companies came together today in Havre, as part of the Ethanol Producers and Consumers Agricultural Biofuel Summit.

This is the very first summit, addressing issues including small grain ethanol production and biodiesel.

“We felt it was time that the parties that had something to do with ethanol production from small grains could all get together and have that conversation. It’s been very important to kind of get the right people at the same table at the same time,” explained Pam Ost, EPAC Executive Director.

One notable figure who has been a steady advocate for biofuels is Senator Jon Tester.

“It’s going to create jobs, it’s going to help move the economy forward. It’s going to help revitalize rural America,” he says.

The Senator spoke at the summit earlier today and also fielded questions from the audience.

Among the day’s topics, creating a market for biofuels, which Senator’s Tester and Baucus hope to accomplish through a bill that would allow the military to buy the fuels for up to 20 years.

“Once that market gets established, whether it’s for the military or some other reason, then it will allow me to jump into that market, too, as a private individual,” Tester adds.

The Senator also addressed the need for protection of producers moving forward in biofuel ventures.

“They need a safety net. These are oftentimes crops that farmers haven’t raised before and so there’s a certain amount of risk involved there.”

EPAC Director Pam Ost says our state is fortunate to have Senators that share their same vision for the future of ethanol and biofuels.

“When they come to an event like this, it gives it greater merit and people then maybe listen a little bit harder and as we move forward, that’s what we need, is more listeners and more people that will help make those decisions.”

While this is EPAC’s first biofuel summit, those in attendance hope there will be more opportunities to come together in the future.

“I think it takes people coming together for conferences like this to be able to think about opportunities that exist. This is a great opportunity to get together with others who have similar interests and who knows where this may go,” says Montana Farmers Union lobbyist and Project Specialist Chris Christians.

The summit will be continuing tomorrow at the MSU-Northern campus.