DES MOINES – The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and Iowa State University have announced that together they are joining the North Central Bioeconomy Consortium (NCBEC). The Consortium is a 12-state collaborative effort of the directors of the Departments of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Services and University Agricultural Experiment Stations.
The Consortium was formed to help guide our country’s transition to energy sources from the Midwest instead of the Middle East by coordinating policy and research throughout the region.
“This Consortium is designed to help Iowa and the 11 other states make sure they are able to continue to lead this transition to a bioeconomy,” said Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. “We need to ensure our state is prepared to for the next generation of biofuels and other bio-based products.”
The 12 North Central states have the potential to produce half to two-thirds of the nation’s perennial bioenergy crops and crop residues. The states participating in the coalition are Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
The NCBEC recently received a $100,000 grant from the Energy Foundation of San Francisco to coordinate regional public policy development and research into the future of renewable energy. A strategic partnership has been formed with the Great Plains Institute of Minneapolis, Minn. to assist in coordination, facilitation and implementation of the 12-state consortium agenda.
“This important effort will help Iowa and the North Central region make sound decisions about the bioeconomy,” said Jack Payne, vice president for extension and outreach at Iowa State University. “Extension in Iowa and across the Midwest will deliver the results of unbiased, research-based sources of information to help them do so. Together we can build our economy, sustain our farmland and maintain the beauty of the landscape.”
“Agriculture is key to the economic vitality for Iowa and the rest of the North Central region,” said Wendy Wintersteen, dean of Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture and director of the Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station. “And now, agriculture is poised to fulfill a new role in energy security. The time has come to get more energy from the Midwest.”
The 12-state consortium met for the first time Feb. 10 of this year in Washington D.C. to reach a memorandum of understanding for the three participating organizations.
The NCBEC recently submitted summary work to the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) documenting the 12-state North Central region’s achievements and potential in leading the transition to greater use of bioenergy, biofuels, and bioproducts.
The North Central Bioeconomy Consortium members recently elected its leadership team for the first two-years. President is Wisconsin Agriculture Secretary Rod Nilsestuen, Vice-President Forest Chumley of Kansas State University and Secretary Dennis Campion of Illinois Cooperative Extension.
NCBEC has also recently agreed to collaborate with the Midwest Governor’s Association on policy review and development for a proposed Energy Summit to be held later this year.
For more information please contact Dustin Vande Hoef, Iowa Department of Agriculture, (515) 281-5321, Elaine Edwards, ISU Extension Communications and Marketing Services, (515) 294-5168 or Brian Meyer, Iowa State University College of Agriculture Communications, (515) 294-5616. You can also learn more about the consortium at www.ncbioconsortium.org.
Dustin Vande Hoef, Iowa Department of Agricuture and Land Stewardship, (515) 281-5321