AGRICULTURE AND RENEWABLE ENERGY
Today, farms are significant contributors to our nation’s energy supply, primarily through biofuels made from crops and crop residues, as well as solar and wind energy installations on farms.
The U.S. is the world’s largest producer of ethanol, usually made from corn and blended into gasoline to help lower vehicle emissions and increase U.S. energy independence. Nearly all U.S. gasoline contains 10% ethanol, with higher blends becoming more common. Today, nearly 40% of the U.S. corn crop goes toward making ethanol, and dried grains leftover from the ethanol-making process (known as dried distillers grains) are later used to feed livestock.
In addition to corn-based ethanol, the agriculture sector also contributes to other forms of renewable energy. Biodiesel, primarily made from soybean oil, can be blended into diesel-based fuel, and cellulosic ethanol made from grass, wood, or plant residues leftover from farming (such as corn leaves or stalks) is an emerging renewable fuel. Farmers are also increasingly building energy production systems on their farms, such as wind turbines, solar panels, and methane digesters that generate electricity from livestock waste. Over 133,000 farmers have renewable energy-producing systems, more than doubling over five years.