Because these crops will be optimized to tolerate conditions such as drought and poor soils, they can be grown on marginal lands unsuitable for food crops, thereby avoiding competition with food production.

Farmers will have the option to grow bioenergy crops in addition to other existing crop choices.

The 10 projects are located in California, Colorado, Illinois, Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Virginia. The full list can be found online at: http://genomicscience.energy.gov/research/DOEUSDA/ - page=news.

Vilsack made the announcement at the INEOS New Planet BioEnergy facility in Vero Beach, Fla., which was granted a conditional USDA loan guarantee earlier this year to help build and operate a biorefinery capable of producing 8 million gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol and 6 megawatts of electricity.

The USDA and DOE joint announcement will also benefit Florida by providing grant funding to the University of Florida in Gainesville to improve energy production from cane biomass.

The project will produce a range of foundational genetic resources and genetic makers for energy cane breeders to efficiently develop energy cane cultivars with increased biomass production and reduced input requirement.

This is the sixth year of the joint USDA and DOE funding program. DOE’s Office of Science will provide $10.2 million in funding for eight projects, while USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will award $2 million to fund two projects. Initial funding will support research projects for up to three years.

For more information on the individual projects and the joint DOE-USDA Plant Feedstocks Genomics for Bioenergy research program, visit: http://genomicscience.energy.gov/research/DOEUSDA/index.shtml.