Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association

Growers Push For Cleaner Fuels
Stonyfield Farm Proves It Pays To Be Green

Growers Push For Cleaner Fuels

Growers groups are pushing for economically viable ways to adhere to tougher air pollution regulations that are slated for the coming year. Included in that strategy is a push in Washington to officially designate B20 – a blend of diesel fuel and vegetable (usually soy) oil – as an alternative fuel, which would make B20 eligible for federal tax incentives and would make it more readily available to growers.

“B20 offers a rare opportunity to immediately capture the benefits of an emerging alternative technology to meet the agricultural policy, energy security and environmental goals of our nation,” says Dennis Stolte, an environmental specialist with the American Farm Bureau (AFB). It should also help growers meet new air pollution standards from the EPA, according to the Farm Bureau; the EPA believes that growers are significant contributors to particulate matter pollution and will be using the new standards to help reduce those emissions. (Particulate matter is a component of noxious gases.)

Compounding the pressure is a drive by the Clinton Administration to ratify the U.N. Global Climate Change Treaty this December, which would set legally binding, numeric limits on greenhouse gases in developed countries. B20, which helps reduce greenhouse gases and can be used in unmodified engines, can reduce total hydrocarbon emissions by more than 12%, total carbon monoxide emissions by more than 7%, and total particulate matter emissions by more than 13 percent.

The American Farm Bureau asserts that granting B20 alternative fuel status would help ease the U.S. dependency on foreign oil: “… [O]ur nation – now 53% dependent on imported petroleum – faces greater risks of supply disruptions and price increases from instability in world oil markets,” says Stolte. “While the United States may never be 100% energy independent, it is reasonable to increase our use of fuels that are made from readily available agricultural sources that are also less harmful to our environment,” he adds. During the past two years, the AFB has been vigorously lobbying the U.S. Department of Energy to grant B20 alternative fuel status, but the DOE has called for more study – which the AFT sees as a delaying tactic.

Meanwhile, grower groups have found a friend in the Clinton Administration in the support of ethanol, which has already been awarded status as a federally sanctioned alternative fuel. With the federal balanced budget agreement now signed into law, ethanol retains tax incentives through December 31, 2000.

Clinton, along with agricultural proponents in Congress, is seeking to extend the ethanol tax incentive through the year 2007, so that farmers and renewable fuels producers have the certainty they need to invest in new ethanol plants, and thus to further expand our domestic renewable fuels industry. This is a proposal that the DOE supports: “We continue to believe that substantial energy and environmental contributions can be made through the large scale use of ethanol from biomass resources,” says Joseph Romm, DOE’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “This is an important transitional market that substantially eases the difficulties of having to introduce simultaneously a new fuel and a new vehicle that can use the fuel.” The push to extend the deadline on ethanol tax incentives has broad support from Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress, and from Vice President Al Gore: “We can’t let this crucial program go by the wayside,” says Gore.

– Joe Dysart, Thousand Oaks, California


Stonyfield Farm Proves It Pays To Be Green

Gary Hirshberg, CEO of national yogurt manufacturer Stonyfield Farm and longtime environmental advocate, urges businesses to take action now to help reduce global climate change by following the “Stonyfield Farm Carbon Solution.”

Hirshberg’s Carbon Solution is a comprehensive business approach to help tackle the issue of global warming and begin measuring and offsetting CO-2 emissions. His new guide provides businesses with a concise, how-to plan to reduce their contribution to the global warming crisis.

Stonyfield Farm has proven that the carbon solution works, as it forms the basis for the company’s environmental practices. By being more energy efficient (through programs such as lighting retrofits and waste heat recovery), as well as mitigating 100% of its carbon emissions from facility energy use (through a reforestation project), Stonyfield has reduced its contribution to global warming. Ironically, the company has conducted these activities while growing its bottom line by 30% and attaining a market share leadership position in several product categories.

“I want other businesses to know that they can do the same thing Stonyfield Farm did, and I urge them to do it,” Hirshberg says. “Macroeconomics are burning a lot of calories debating whether the United States should attempt to achieve 1990 emission levels by the year 2005, 2010 or even 2015. In the meantime, business and industry have the power to skip the debate and reduce carbon emissions today.”

Stoneyfield Farm and the Union of Concerned Scientists have teamed up to help raise awareness of global warming. The “Stonyfield Farm Carbon Solution” will be available in December through the Union of Concerned Scientists’ website (, as well as by mail from Stonyfield Farm.

In addition, Stonyfield Farm will be reaching consumers with information about global warming on more than 4 million of its yogurt container lids. Stonyfield Farm’s “Put A Lid on Global Warming” message will begin appearing on all Stonyfield Farm individual cup yogurts this November. The company also will be communicating this message through its educational newsletter, which reaches more than 250,000 Stonyfield Farm consumers nationwide.

According to Hirshberg, “Through a program of measurement and continuous improvement, Stonyfield Farm is rapidly growing while dramatically decreasing its impact on global climate change. It’s a classic win-win-win situation – good for business, good for our children and good for America.”

Founded in 1983, Stonyfield Farm is a $41 million New Hampshire-based yogurt, frozen yogurt and ice cream manufacturer with distribution throughout the United States and overseas.


MOF&G Cover Winter 1997