The price and availability of fuel is impacted by foreign and domestic politics as well as a finite supply of fossil fuels.

An abundance of raw materials where new technologies are producing new types of bio-fuels have gained immensely in popularity as traditional fuel prices climb and conservation issues gain momentum. The agricultural community is central in the changing market as the provider of potential raw materials to be used in the production of these new fuel sources. Producers also seek to understand the new technologies and to partner with fledgling biofuel producers in a virtually new industry.

The Central Texas Bio Fuel Program for Agricultural Producers will be held on two dates and locations - Jan. 24 in Belton at the Bell County Expo (extension agent - Dirk Aaron) and Jan. 31 at Hill County College (extension agent - Gideon Jennings, integrated pest management agent - Marty Jungman).

Both programs will begin at 9 a.m. with registration and conclude with lunch presentations.

Private pesticide applicators attending either program will receive 2-1/2 continuing education credits. The registration fee for producers attending is $5 per person due to sponsorship by the Texas Grain Sorghum Board and the Texas Corn Producers Board.

Producers may pre-register through the Bell County Extension Office at (254) 933-5305 or the Hill County Extension Office at (254) 582-4022. Brochures and registration forms are available through the offices, can be e-mailed, hard mailed or faxed. Checks sent should be made to TCE Account 215330.

Registration will be taken at-the-door, but lunch will be available first for those who are pre-registered.

Topics to be covered include “An Overview of Production Options in Biofuels for Producers,” “Sweet Sorghums Used for Ethanol Production and Biomass,” “On-Farm Biomass to Energy Production Systems” and an “Economic Assessment of Production.” These presentations will be followed by updates on emerging Texas operations as well as information on the new Texas A&M Agriculture and Engineering Bioenergy Alliance.

Speakers include Dr. Travis Miller (Jan. 24), Texas Cooperative Extension Soil and Crop Sciences; Dr. Juerg Blumenthal (Jan. 24 and 31), Texas Cooperative Extension agronomist; Dr. Saqib Mukhtar (Jan. 24), Texas Cooperative Extension waste management specialist; Dr. Joe Outlaw (Jan. 24 and 31), Texas Cooperative Extension policy specialist; Dr. Alex Thomasson (Jan. 31), Texas A&M University professor. Kit Worley and Vince Neuhaus of the Blackland Ethanol Project will provide an update on the plant progress. The Texas A&M Agriculture and Engineering Bioenergy Alliance, with Dr. Bob Avant and Dr. Bill McCutcheon, will be on-hand to provide information of research efforts and progress made through the new entity.

For further information, contact the county Extension office, 701 S. Interstate 35E, Suite 3, Waxahachie, call (972) 825-5175 or e-mail: wmarnold@ag.tamu.edu.

Mark Arnold is the county extension agent for agriculture and natural resources.