2013 Annual Report
The first survey focused on four primary areas: (1) job background and demographics of survey participants; (2) outreach and extension activities of survey participants; (3) knowledge about bioenergy feedstocks; and (4) knowledge and perceptions about oilseed feedstocks for biofuel production. The survey was sent to 7612 participants in ten western states (CA, CO, KS, MT, ND, NE, OR, SD, TX, WA) by email from November to December of 2012, of which 989 responded, providing a 13 percent response rate. Given the nature of the email survey conducted, the response rate is in line with other similar survey efforts. The survey provided useful information by agricultural sector (extension, research, government and agribusiness) and regions of the western U.S. on the level of current knowledge and needs. In addition, the survey provided useful information about the primary vehicles used by extension to learn and disseminate information that can be used to guide dissemination of project results and the forms of project deliverables. Two summary reports about (i) how extension and outreach personnel utilize different sources to learn about or obtain information and (ii) what vehicles (e.g. media sources, field days, etc.) extension and outreach personnel utilize to disseminate knowledge and information about bioenergy topics are being prepared for publication and dissemination.
The second survey was developed to examine farmers’ cropping decisions and interest in growing oilseed crops for bioenergy production. The information provided by the survey will help guide industry and policymakers about the potential for oilseed production for bioenergy; assist industry with contracting with farmers; provide knowledge on the suitability of oilseed crop options in different regions in the western U.S.; and help direct needed outreach and extension efforts. The survey was sent out to 10,090 farmers in 10 wheat producing states (i.e., CA, CO, KS, MT, ND, NE, OR, SD, TX, WA). At present about 10 percent of the farmers have responded to the survey, which may be due to the survey focusing on oilseed crops. This may provide an indication of the reluctance of farmers to consider alternative cropping options at this point in time given the present agricultural environment. On the other hand, it may be the case that the limited number of farmers interested may represent enough land to provide a viable market for oilseeds in different regions for producing aviation biofuels.
The farmer survey asked farmers about: (1) their current farming operation and cropping practices; (2) willingness to grow alternative oilseed feedstocks under contract; (3) past crop adoption experiences; (4) and personal demographics. The survey was sent out in April to June 2013. Data from the survey is currently being compiled and cleaned by a third party. An initial dataset is expected to be compiled by the end of July, 2013. A significant component of the survey is a stated choice experiment asking about farmers’ willingness to grow oilseed feedstocks for aviation biofuels under contract. This approach provides extremely useful information and can provide statistically powerful results even with small samples. The experiment was designed to assess farmers’ reactions to different oilseed characteristics (e.g. shatter resistance, pest tolerance and resistance, winter hardiness and effects of direct combining) and contract/market attributes (net returns under the contract, length of the contract, crop insurance availability, cost share assistance, and presence of an “Act of God” clause). The results from this part of the study will help to guide plant breeding research; market development initiatives; and effects on agricultural land usage.
A significant deliverable from the survey was a fact sheet about oilseed production for bioenergy that was sent out with each survey to farmers across the U.S. to provide information and lay a foundation for extension efforts. Thus, over 10,000 farmers have been provided some information about oilseed production opportunities and biofuel production.