With gasoline prices skyrocketing and no relief in site, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson is urging the state's agriculture industry to consider producing crops for ethanol production.
"I know we can do it," Bronson told 150 attendees at Farm Credit of South Florida's annual stockholders' meeting at the International Polo Club on Wednesday. "We can have two million acres worth of crops for fuel if we can get enough plants built so we can turn it into ethanol. Florida can outproduce any state in the union."
Bronson suggested the thousands of acres of Florida citrus that were leveled as part of the now-defunct citrus canker eradication program could be put into production for fuel crops.
"We have people looking at Florida for fuel production," he said. "We can produce ethanol and biodiesel without having to rely on another country."
Tampa-based U.S. EnviroFuels expects to break ground this summer on what will be the state's first manufacturing plant for fuel ethanol. The privately funded company plans to build two plants, at the Port of Tampa and Port Manatee, for $75 million to $80 million each. According to Bradley Krohn, president and chief technical officer of U.S. EnviroFuels, both plants will be able to produce close to 50 million gallons of ethanol from corn.