March 16, 2007

USDA secretary to visit Purdue for renewable fuels discussion

Mike Johanns
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U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns will visit Purdue University on Wednesday (March 21) to discuss the 2007 Farm Bill and learn more about renewable fuels research on campus.

At 4 p.m. in Stewart Center's Fowler Hall, the public is invited to hear a short presentation by Johanns on the Bush Administration's proposed Farm Bill, followed by a roundtable discussion on renewable fuels research led by Purdue Agriculture researcher Bernie Tao. Tao and other Purdue researchers will highlight progress in biofuels research and take questions from Johanns and the audience. USDA chief economist Keith Collins also will participate in the discussion.

Audio from the roundtable event will be Webcast by the USDA and can be accessed from the department's Web site at

"Purdue's research in biofuels has gained national attention, and we welcome this opportunity to discuss future opportunities in renewable energy," said Randy Woodson, Purdue's Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture. "The Farm Bill's proposed bioenergy research funding will support agriculture and move our country forward in its goal of energy security."

Among the Farm Bill's proposals is investing $1.6 billion in new renewable energy programs over the next 10 years. The main focus of these efforts would be the development of cellulosic ethanol as a cost-effective alternative to corn-based ethanol. Cellulosic ethanol can be made from wood chips, grasses and agricultural waste.

Johanns will begin his campus visit with a tour of Purdue's cellulosic ethanol research labs. Leading the tour will be Michael Ladisch, director of Purdue's Laboratory of Renewable Resources Engineering and a distinguished professor of agricultural and biological engineering. His research focuses on bioprocess engineering with an emphasis on making the ethanol production process more efficient.

Tao is the Indiana Soybean Board Professor in Soybean Utilization Research. His expertise is in developing and using bio-based renewable resources and products to replace those made from non-renewable petrochemicals. He is currently working on developing a soy-based jet fuel.

Also in attendance for the discussion will be Purdue President Martin C. Jischke and director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture Andy Miller.

Earlier that afternoon, Johanns will visit Reynolds, Ind., for the Phase II groundbreaking of the Biotown, USA, project. The long-term goal of the Biotown project is to meet all of the town's energy needs with biorenewable resources. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels will be a part of that ceremony.

Writer: Beth Forbes, (765) 494-2722, (765) 497-7102 (home), (765) 427-5179 (cell),

Source: Randy Woodson, (765) 494-8391

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Beth Forbes,
Agriculture News Page

Note to journalists: Johanns will tour the Purdue ethanol research labs at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday (March 21). The tour is open to the media but not to the general public. There will be a multbox for audio at Fowler Hall. Media covering the Purdue events should contact Beth Forbes, news and public affairs coordinator, at (765) 494-2722,

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