Last week, the CEO of the world’s largest biofuels producer was invited to speak at the United Nations in a private sector forum on their Millenium Development Goals. Jeff Broin, CEO of POET, told UN agency heads why he thinks the biofuels industry model it is applicable to world development goals.
Broin recounted how his father, a farmer who started the 1.4 billion gallon ethanol company 25 years ago, was tired of the U.S. government paying him to set aside productive acres of farmland -- while at the same time, the government was importing more foreign oil every year.
“That didn’t make sense. He saw potential to grow both food and fuel,” Broin said. His father built a small ethanol plant on the family farm and within a couple of years, the Broin family was producing corn-based ethanol. The company grew on a business model based on partnerships with farmers and small communities. “These partnerships have led to tremendous success for our farmers and incredible economic development for these communities,” he said.
Broin is confident that what his father and the POET company have achieved in rural America can happen all over the world.
“With billions of acres of idled cropland across the globe – and the price of agricultural commodities above the cost of production for the first time in decades – there is an unbelievable opportunity for underdeveloped countries to simultaneously lift people out of poverty and solve their crippling addiction to energy imports,” Broin said.
How?? Given all of the advancements in agriculture – new seeds, drought-tolerant crops, smarter farming techniques – people in less than ideal farming situations can grow more sustainable crops than ever before. And it doesn’t have to come at the expense of the environment, Broin said. The billion acres of idled crop land [across the globe] guarantees that new farm land need not come from rainforests or sensitive areas, he said.