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As a new election cycle draws near, it is hard to not notice the pinch our economy has been under. Small businesses struggle to stay open alongside multimillion dollar corporations, and people from every walk of life struggle to keep or find jobs. Our government is looking everywhere to find new and better options for creating jobs and expanding industry, but could it be that the answer lies in keeping things local?

Agriculture is a huge industry in our country, and there are many opportunities to get more out of what is already there. With a steady increase in the local food movement, small farms will need to fill more positions, offering more opportunities for jobs and expansion. Additionally, there are a lot of opportunities for renewable energy to dovetail with local farmers. Outside of wind-farming, which is already starting to see an increase, another great possibility exists as bioenergy. Bioenergy comes from biological materials, biomass,  and is used as a renewable resource. While some biomass is specifically grown, think corn for ethanol, most are by-products which means that this energy is coming from something which would otherwise be discarded and forgotten about. Farmers have the opportunity to turn manure, crop waste, and any other residue into energy.

Farms big and small alike have to find ways to deal with their waste, so by utilizing bioenergy options, they are fixing a long standing problem, and working green at the same time.  This renewable energy can provide not only power for the farm from which it is coming, but to the community in which the farm is located. This is a way to really keep things local, create new jobs, and ensure a better, cleaner future for our children.

Local food consumption continues to increase, and that means more farms popping up with more need for energy. Farms take a lot of work, and when you add in the opportunity for renewable energy you’re looking at quite a few ways to boost our economy. Additionally, keeping things local keeps money flowing in your community and can help to bolster your local economy, “The typical American meal contains ingredients from five countries other than the U.S. Those food purchases do not strengthen our economy or bolster the livelihoods of our own farmers. Buying local does. A recent study by the Maine Organic Farms and Gardeners Association estimates that by encouraging Maine residents to spend just $10/week on local food, $100,000,000 would be invested back into farmer’s pockets and the Maine economy each growing season. The same investment could be made in every state in the country if residents opted to buy local.” 

Those types of changes can really push things in the direction I think a lot of us are hoping to go. So, the next time you’re in the grocery store, think about buying an apple from your home state rather than from Mexico- and imagine how that will grow jobs and help the environment!

 

Some information on companies that use bioenergy for renewable energy sources:
http://www.biogas-energy.com/site/technology.html
http://blogs.kqed.org/climatewatch/2011/08/24/another-renewable-energy-frontier-farm-biomass/ 

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