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Greg Gibson, Coordinator
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or 601-977-4154
email: ggibson@msfb.org

25x’25: Mississippi leader helps build a renewable energy future


All it takes is one stop at the fuel pump to realize that Americans are confronting one of their biggest challenges in decades. Soaring energy prices are impacting all sectors of our economy, whether you are a farmer trying to fuel up for field work, a trucker hauling goods across the country or an office worker who commutes to work every day.

That’s why leaders like Mississippi Farm Bureau President David Waide are joining forces with others across the country to endorse a bold new initiative: 25x’25. The goal: America ’s farms, ranches and forests will provide 25 percent of America ’s energy needs from renewable sources by 2025. A bi-partisan group of Senators and Representatives in Washington , D.C. recently introduced 25x’25 as a national goal for the country and more and more people are endorsing this vision every day.

"We believe the time has come for concerned citizens to work collectively and bring this vision to life," explains Waide. "We are convinced that America ’s farms, ranches and forests can become suppliers for a new generation of fuels and energy feedstocks. At the same time, we’ll contribute to a cleaner environment and enhance rural economic development."

Diverse sources available

Although widespread public awareness of the 25x’25 initiative is relatively recent, it’s been gaining momentum over the last two years. In the fall of 2004, a group of agricultural leaders joined forces to discuss how they could proactively address the growing challenges associated with energy prices. "We anticipated that this was going to continue to be a huge issue," says 25x’25 co-chair J. Read Smith. "But at that time, none of us would have predicted the hurricanes in 2005, the supply disruptions, and some of the dramatic price swings and economic impacts we are seeing now."

After extensive dialogue with a wide range of stakeholders and energy advocates this steering committee became convinced that agriculture and forestry can play a key role in helping the nation move toward energy independence. "We looked at the energy potential from a wide range of sources: wind, solar, methane, ethanol, biodiesel," adds Bill Richards, who also serves as co-chair.

New technologies emerging

"The technologies that could turn this vision to reality are rapidly emerging and providing new, more efficient solutions," adds Waide. "In the past decade, there have been great strides in biofuel technology and manufacturing facilities, substantially improving the efficiency of this fuel source. Mississippi will be the site of great advances in the development of fuel and energy alternatives."

"Imagine the impact that could be made if every farm, ranch and forestry operation in our vast nation were contributing energy in one form or another," suggests Waide. "And imagine the economic impact that could result. Landowners who produce crops, livestock or forestry products, would have a second crop to sell – energy. Jobs would be created in rural America through the processing of agricultural products and the maintenance of equipment for producing electric power. These increased domestic energy supplies would help reduce the price Americans pay to drive their cars and cool their homes."

Momentum grows

The 25x’25 Work Group has dramatically expanded in scope and size since its inception and momentum continues to build for making this a national goal and creating alliances in at least 20 states. As we went to press, the goal has been by the governors of Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin; state legislatures in Colorado, Nebraska, and Vermont; and over 200 organizations and businesses from around the country.

"We hope other individuals and organizations will join us in crafting this new energy paradigm," adds Waide. "Strong partnerships will drive the 25x’25 vision, and the work has just begun on that front."

To learn more about 25x’25, go to www.25x25.org or contact Waide at (601) 977-4290.

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The Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation is the state's largest general farm organization with more than 230,000 member-families statewide.  There are Farm Bureaus in all 82 counties in Mississippi where agriculture comprises a fundamental part of Mississippi 's economy.  Headquartered in Jackson , the federation is an independent, non-profit agricultural organization and is not associated with any arm of the government.  For more information about Farm Bureau, visit our website at www.msfb.com.

© 2007 Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation