Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer recently congratulated Alltech and its CEO, Pearse Lyons, on a federal grant of up to $30 million for a new cellulosic biofuel plant in Washington County.

“This grant will enable Alltech to take the lead among the next generation of biofuel producers,” Commissioner Farmer said. “The plant will create a new market for Kentucky corn, but it also will be capable of utilizing other products such as corn cobs, switchgrass and corn stover to produce ethanol. This project could lead to a chain of similar plants throughout Kentucky, which would generate jobs and economic development to many small Kentucky communities.”

The grant was one of three for a total of up to $86 million that the U.S. Department of Energy recently awarded. All three grants will provide funding for construction of small-scale cellulosic biorefineries.

Construction on the Alltech plant will begin in June. Lyons has said the facility could be completed in 15-16 months. When completed, the plant will be capable of producing more than 1 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol a year. The $70 million biorefinery also will house dairy and beef cattle that will carry the Kentucky Proud label.

Commissioner Farmer supports the growing biofuel industry in Kentucky and the 25 X ’25 program, which calls for the United States to get 25 percent of its energy from renewable resources by 2025. At the same time, Commissioner Farmer recognizes the need to balance the demands of the biofuel industry with those of Kentucky’s livestock producers, who depend on corn for an affordable source of feed.