Many building dedications feature a ribbon-cutting; this one included a front-end loader ceremoniously dumping a scoopful of pulverized sugarcane stalks.

It was an appropriate way to mark the official launch of the Stan Mayfield Biorefinery Pilot Plant in Perry, a cooperative venture between the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and Buckeye Technologies Inc.

As 200 guests looked on, State Rep. Debbie Mayfield, (R-Vero Beach), stepped up to the big machine and pulled a lever, delivering the first official shipment of feedstock to the biorefinery, which will develop methods for producing fuel ethanol and other compounds from inedible plant material.

The biorefinery is named for Mayfield’s late husband, a member of the state House of Representatives from 2000 until his death in 2008. A UF graduate, Mayfield was a strong advocate of renewable fuels, environmental protection and economic growth.

Mayfield was instrumental in securing a $20 million appropriation from the Florida Legislature to fund the biorefinery, noted UF Senior Vice-President for Agriculture and Natural Resources Jack Payne as he addressed the audience inside the 18,500-square-foot facility.

“(Stan) listened to and respected the research but also knew the way to get this idea from the lab to daily reality had to be a partnership — a partnership that matched the knowledge created at the University of Florida with state support and private industry leadership,” Payne said.