Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson has announced he is hosting this year’s “Farm to Fuel” summit from July 30 to Aug. 1 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando.

Last July in St. Petersburg, Bronson hosted his second Florida “Farm to Fuel” summit, which attracted more than 450 participants, and the commissioner believes this year’s conference will be bigger and better.

This year’s summit comes on the heels of landmark energy legislation at both the state and federal level. Last December, Congress passed and President Bush signed into law the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which increased the total amount of biofuels required to be added to gasoline to 36 billion gallons by 2022, from 4.7 billion gallons in 2007. The Act further specifies that 21 billion gallons of the 2022 total must be derived from non-cornstarch products (e.g. sugar or cellulose).

Recently, the Florida Legislature passed a comprehensive energy bill that sets Florida on a course to become a national clean energy leader. The bill requires all gasoline sold in Florida to contain 10 percent ethanol by the end of 2010, requires the state's electric utilities to produce a certain percentage of their power from renewable energy sources, and sets pollution limits for utilities and requires those companies to buy carbon credits when they exceed those limits.

In addition, Congress recently passed the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 which contains a number of provisions aimed at investing in renewable energy programs to promote energy independence.

“There has been a good deal of momentum recently in our drive to get this industry off the ground,” Bronson said. “We’re eager to share that with participants and provide them with the information they need to enter this industry.” Information about the “Farm to Fuel” initiative and the upcoming summit can be found at www.floridafarmtofuel.com.

Florida’s “Farm to Fuel” initiative, inspired by the bi-partisan national organization “25x’25", seeks to enhance the market for and promote the production and distribution of renewable energy from Florida-grown crops, agricultural wastes and residues, and other biomass. In the process, it is designed to give Florida agricultural producers alternative crops to grow to keep their farms and ranches viable.

To date, 14 companies and universities have received $30 million in state energy grants under the “Farm to Fuel” program to construct commercial ethanol or biodiesel plants or conduct demonstration projects designed to show the feasibility of alternative energy technologies.

Bronson believes Florida can lead the nation in the production of renewable energy as a result of its mild climate, abundant sunshine, ample rainfall and long growing season.

“We’re excited about the program and are looking forward to exploring with participants at the upcoming summit the potential in this industry that exists for their businesses,” Bronson said.