Local News

Bio-diesel Interest Revs Up Farmers' Economic Engines

Posted February 28, 2007 12:27 a.m. EST

— Gas prices have been rising of late, and the resulting interest in non-traditional energy is a win-win for North Carolina farmers.

It wasn't long ago that you'd never hear anyone mention bio-diesel, or any other alternative fuel, down on the farm. That's changing in a big way nationwide, and it’s changed in Wilson County at Rock Ridge Farms.

“It means less dependence on foreign oil. It's an energy source we can grow right here. It's a renewable source. It's good for the environment, good for the economy, good for farmers,” says farmer Michael Boyette.

In some cases, it means crops are bringing twice the price they did a year ago because alternative fuel manufacturers need massive amounts of corn and soybeans.

One year ago, North Carolina farmers were getting $1.80 a bushel for corn. It now goes for $4 a bushel. Soybeans last year were at $5 a bushel. This year, it’s just over $8.

Sam Brake of Grain Growers Cooperative represents 250 North Carolina grain growers. He travels the circuit, doing a demonstration of how they can turn crops to cash by helping in the production of an amber liquid that fuels vehicles and smells like vegetable bio-diesel.

A lot of North Carolina farmers are way ahead of the curve on alternative fuel use. At Rock Ridge Farms, the fertilizer truck, the sprayer and the combine all run on bio-diesel.