Steve White KFXL
Nebraska farmers see future in bio-economy
December 4, 2023
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  • Agriculture fuels Nebraska’s economy and now farmers say they hold the key to powering the future.

    It’s called the bio-economy, as things we grow take the place of petroleum and Nebraska’s largest farm organization says we’re on the edge of the next era.

    It’s “unbelievable” to farmers like Lance Atwater to consider the corn he plants in the ground could put planes in the sky.

    “To think the corn I’m growing could power a 757,” Atwater said.

    Farmers hope to turn corn, soybeans, and animal products into sustainable aviation fuel and other products.

    “The fact that we’re making chemicals from organisms instead of oil and with corn and soybeans we can do almost anything oil has ever done is an incredible opportunity for agriculture,” said Mark McHargue, Nebraska Farm Bureau President.

    As he delivered his annual address at the group’s 106th annual meeting, McHargue said the state needs to prepare now, looking where next generation plants will be built and what regulations they state will need.

    “Trying to figure out how do we navigate it because we know there will be winners and losers,” he said.

    And letting farmers understand what they need to do like using greener fertilizers and showing they’re using sustainable practices.

    “We can package data and say, ‘Hey corporation, we can prove it’ and get a few more dollars for that bushel of corn,” he said.

    Lance Atwater who farms near Ayr believes farmers will play a big role in the bio-based economy.

    “That’s part of the future and part of the solution,” he said.

    McHargue highlighted a number of issues during his presidential speech. He said the state needs to take further action to address the property tax burden on farmers and ranchers. McHargue encouraged Farm Bureau members to get engaged on the local level.

    Farm Bureau has developed a relationship with the FBI with a focus on cybersecurity which is another focus at the convention, looking at the threat of cyberattacks and also foreign actors stealing ag technology.

    McHargue called on the Biden administration to be more assertive on trade. Nebraska farmers have been concerned about Mexico’s position on genetically modified white corn.

    McHargue also highlighted the significance of having the first farmer in the governor’s office in more than a century. Farm Bureau provided a major endorsement for Gov. Jim Pillen during his campaign.