Energy crops coming to Schoharie County
New York State farmers could soon be growing a new crop. As our Maria Valvanis explains, a Texas-based company is looking for new lands to grow a renewable energy source.
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SCHOHARIE COUNTY, N.Y. -- Farmer Richard Ball, said, "We can't heal until we get everybody back to work."
Nearly 10 months after tropical storms devastated Schoharie County agriculture, things are starting to look up. Texas-based Aloterra Energy company is intending to use the area, along with Greene and Delaware counties, to expand their biomass production.
Business Chief Officer Matt Griswold said, "Our goal is to get 4,000 acres planted in 2013, that will generate somewhere between 30 to 45 full-time jobs from that project."
"This initiative is a very important part of our recovery program, economically from the floods," said Senator James Seward.
Aloterra plans to work with local farmers to grow an energy renewal crop called miscanthus.
The 11-foot bamboo looking like grass produces high-quality fiber, used to manufacture consumer products, and heat and electricity. The cash crop requires extensive instruction and guidance for farmers to grow, which is what Griswold is proposing to provide.
"We take dedicated crops and help farmers plant those crops, grow those crops, harvest them," said Griswold.
The company has already planted 18,000 acres of the crop in four separate regions of the U.S. Griswold says, as the project progresses, job opportunities will grow, as well as the economic impact.
"It's too soon to call it a saving grace, but it definitely looks like a good option," said Ball.
The next step for the project is getting local farmers involved. Aloterra will hold an informational meeting for farmers Wednesday night to answer any questions they may have. Griswold tell us, farmers will likely have the opportunity to sign up to participate in the project, toward the end of August.