With an increasing dependence on foreign oil and a decreasing agriculture income, Oklahoma Farmers Union President Phillip Klutts says the upcoming interim study on Oklahoma ethanol production is a positive move for agriculture producers and consumers alike.

"New energy sources must be tapped to keep up with demand and the continued increase in the price of petroleum-based gasoline," Klutts said. "Ethanol can complement the oil and agriculture industry in Oklahoma by adding to the energy needs of the nation with Oklahoma's agricultural products."

Ethanol is used as an alternative oxygen-enhanced and cleaner burning additive to gasoline. It can be produced and delivered for less than gasoline.

"This could lower the United States' dependence on foreign oil and provide a market for sorghum and other grains produced in Oklahoma," Klutts said. "With the continued low prices of grains produced in Oklahoma, adding value through ethanol producers will benefit family farms and rural communities. And ethanol is a renewable resource that will prolong the availability of domestic oil resources. It seems to be a winning scenario for all."

Oklahoma House Agriculture Committee Chair M.C. Leist, D-Morris, announced the ethanol study. The committee will meet Oct. 30 to research the economic feasibility of making Oklahoma an ethanol producing state.

OFU asked Leist to consider the visionary study at the end of the regular legislative session. The family farm organization affirms that ethanol production could be another opportunity to add value to raw agriculture products and provide additional income for many struggling family agriculture producers.

Oklahoma is a major producer of grains that can be used in the production of ethanol. Sorghum grain, an alternative crop grown in drier parts of Oklahoma, is used extensively in other states to produce this energy supply.

Research also is being conducted on using straw, stalks and some grasses for ethanol.

Several Midwestern states have ethanol production plants. In Nebraska, a producer-owned ethanol plant can utilize more than 16 million bushels of sorghum and corn to produce 40 million gallons of ethanol.

Besides producing ethanol, these plants also can produce a high-protein by product use din animal feed.

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