GREENVILLE — U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand was in Greenville on Wednesday to commemorate a $23,750 Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) grant to the Richmond, Indiana based Harvest Land Cooperative. Also in attendance at the event were Congressman Warren Davidson, USDA Ohio Rural Development Director David L. Hall, and USDA Indiana Rural Development Director Michael R. Dora.
The portion of the grant comes courtesy of a $117,000 investment by the Trump administration to improve biofuel sales in Ohio and Indiana.
“The Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program supports American farmers and boosts rural economic development by expanding ethanol and biodiesel sales,” said Brand in a new release from the USDA Rural Development Office. “The investment we’re recognizing today is among $22 million awarded in the program nationwide, expected to increase ethanol demand by nearly 150 million gallons annually.”
Harvest Land, and the other cooperative present at the event, CountryMark, are both in close work with the USDA to strengthen rural communities like Darke County. The Greenville funds will be used to offset the cost of replacing two dispensers at the CountryMark cooperative-supported fueling station located at 619 Sater Street. In view of the larger developments within the program, it was reported that ethanol sales are expected to rise by an estimated 238,954 gallons annually in the area.
“We got a lot of feedback from the industry… and developed the most simple application process we could (for the grants),” noted Brand. “The whole goal is how we can encourage increased uses of ethanol, and the primary focus was to provide better access to the consumer. It does so many things, it helps the farmers with increased uses in ethanol, and it’s a cleaner burning fuel. The beauty of this program is that it increases local access to E15 (ethanol fuel), so consumers are going to have lower gas prices, better fuel efficiency, and a better economy. But the important thing is that it helps the farmers, which helps stregthen rural communities.”
Brand concluded by noting that the consumers are the real winners of this development. David Hall, USDA Ohio Rural Development Director, also spoke to the impact that the grant will have on consumers in Darke County.
“When you look at consumers, right off, the price (of gas) will be lower,” said Hall. “Price is big, and I think people will drive to a site like this (619 Sater Street) if this price is better. And for farmers, the impact goes a long way. I was driving through the area with the Under Secretary (Brand) and showing her all the beautiful fields, knowing that there has to be a market for it (ethanol).”
Michael Dora, Indiana USDA Rural Development, noted that over 40 percent of corn crops go into ethanol now, and that demand has grown considerably even since 10 years ago. Dora also stated that when he started farming in 1972 the average corn yield for the U.S. was 85 bushels, and last year it was 185. So, if not for ethanol, farmers would have significantly more corn than they would know what to do with, and this program helps to expand the marketplace for farmers to sell.
“These guys are all co-ops, so they work with other people and the partnerships they create are excellent,” said Greenville Mayor Steve Willman. “They are great neighbors to us, and they know that this is one of the greatest agricultural areas and communites in the entire country, so it is wonderful to see the support. What a great help this program is to everyone, and I believe everyone in Greenville and the surrounding areas will benefit.”
As it seems, the HBIIP grant is already being felt in Darke County by both farmers and consumers. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov
To contact the writer, Nathaniel Kubik, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 937-569-0066.