Posts Tagged ‘Agricultural Journalists’
I am just back from spending a week with 250 agricultural journalists from all over the world. The International Federation of Agricultural Journalists congress is an annual event that meets each year in a different country. This year we visited Austria and Slovenia – next year the congress will come to the United States and we will entertain the group in Fort Worth, Texas. It is always interesting to get perspectives on agriculture from other countries. Biofuels production was a big topic of discussion and many people that I talked to were very interested in the progress being made in the US toward cellulosic ethanol. We visited a wood biomass plant in Austria, but their focus is using that for energy production, rather than liquid biofuels. Of course, food versus fuel was a topic of discussion. The organizer and president of this year’s congress was former European Union agriculture commissioner Franz Fischler, who is a native Austrian. He calls the food versus fuel controversy “unfair.” “They don’t differentiate between food price and agriculture price and the agriculture price is usually only a small component of the final food product,” Fischler told me during an interview about biofuels production in Austria. Fischler says that second generation biofuels will be key in meeting long term renewable fuels goals for all countries, but it has to start with first generation ethanol from corn. “That’s why we have to start now,” he added. Austria has ten biodiesel plants but so far only one ethanol plant. “It seems to me that biodiesel is the most difficult concept as far as sustainability is concerned,” Fischler said, mainly because soybeans and other oilseeds are less economical to grow in that region, compared to corn.