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'Imperative' for fruit and nut orchards to be included in US bioenergy programmes

The Almond Alliance of California has called for increased funding from the Farm Bill in order to help develop bioenergy outlets for almond biomass and byproducts in the state.

Kelly Covello, president of the Almond Alliance of California, explained to a Farm Bill listening session in Modesto that the legislation was important to the almond industry in the areas of trade, conservation, bioenergy, technical assistance, research and block grants.

“It is essential that we increase 2018 Farm Bill programme funding levels,” she said. “We have seen no funding increases in several important titles in the last two Farm Bills while the challenges facing agriculture have exploded.”

Covello explained to the panel that the almond industry believed it could eventually produce almonds with zero waste. However, she suggested that current economic and environmental challenges along with bioenergy technological hurdles have slowed the development of bioenergy outlets for almond feedstocks.

"An outlet such as open burning is no longer a viable option given air quality and environmental concerns,” she said. “Cogeneration and biomass energy options are increasingly unavailable due to economics and environmental regulations which are causing biomass plants to close.”

According to the Almond Alliance’s statement, woody biomass produced in orchards and orchard removals can be used as a feedstock for biofuels and bioenergy. USDA bioenergy programmes however, traditionally focus on crops for ethanol production, failing to take into account the biomass generated from speciality crops.

“It is imperative that biomass produced in fruit and nut orchards be eligible for the USDA’s bioenergy programs,” Covello argued.





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