Growers consider committing acres for oilseeds
Updated: Friday, July 13, 2012 11:49 AM
By MATTHEW WEAVER
COLFAX, Wash. -- Eastern Washington farmers are weighing whether to commit acreage to oilseed production for a biodiesel company with plans to move into the region.
Independence Energy Co. is asking for a one-year commitment from local growers to raise a total of 5,000 acres of camelina.
Whether the company locates in the area depends on the acreage commitment and transportation requirements, said Adrian Lanser, CEO of the company.
"We believe the prosperity of our company is directly tied to the prosperity we can show the grower," Lanser said.
According to the company's grower and processor agreement, the company would pay growers 6.5 cents per pound of camelina delivered, with rates adjusted for canola. Meal sold as feed should pay for input costs, he said.
Growers would receive a 40 percent reduction in the price of diesel sold and distributed by their local co-op for their fuel allotment.
If the processor does not place crushing or production machinery capable of processing 48 tons of oilseeds per day in the region before Oct. 1, the grower would have no obligations under the agreement.
LaCrosse, Wash., farmer Steve Camp, chief operating officer for Independent Energy Co., said the company now awaits word from farmers.
Given enough interest, the company would be in business for a crop next spring, Camp said.
Garfield, Wash., farmer Jon Olson is also already raising oilseeds on a trial basis. He's considering raising a winter canola variety.
"I am definitely interested in seeing a local crusher or diesel production," Olson said, also citing the positive effects of having oilseeds as a rotation crop.
Pullman, Wash., farmer Gavin Clark said he is not strongly considering an oilseed crop but wanted more information.
"Probably like a lot of people, I might not be the first one to jump all in," he said of oilseed production. "It would be nice to see a viable market develop, but it's kind of tough to go away from what we're doing right now that's working pretty well."
Colfax, Wash., farmer Steve Teade wanted more time to digest the numbers to ensure he'd be profitable, but said he'd likely commit a small number of acres for a start.
"If we share in the profits or losses, then both of us are equally happy or sad, I guess," Teade said. "Whereas somebody else, they're out to make a profit and they could care less if I make a profit. I like this set-up a lot better."