Attendees at the inaugural North American Grain Congress in Reno, Nev., Feb. 19-22, will learn about “synergy in energy” from Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen, who is slated to speak at the Grain Congress general session. The Grain Congress is the first joint conference of the National Grain Sorghum Producers and the National Association of Wheat Growers.

“Ethanol has become the single-most important and fastest-growing value-added market for farmers, stimulating rural economic development, creating jobs and increasing farm income,” said Dinneen.

The expanding, broad-based ethanol industry offers producers the opportunity to improve their bottom lines through improved grain prices and plant ownership. Currently, 10 U.S. ethanol plants consistently utilize grain sorghum in their starch mix and two also utilize wheat. The plants have a production capacity of 391 million gallons per year.

With five additional plants under construction and one plant expanding, the production capacity will increase to 561 million gallons per year.

NAWG President Mark Gage of Page, N.D., said that wheat producers are embracing opportunities in the ethanol industry that add value to their crops. He said, “The near-term prospects for making ethanol from straw and other crop residues is another exciting development for wheat and sorghum producers. We expect to see groundbreaking on the first of these plants in 2005.”

For grain sorghum producers, ethanol is also an important, growing market. Dan Krienke of Perryton, Texas, NGSP vice president of domestic market development, said that in 2003, 12 percent of the U.S. grain sorghum crop went into ethanol production.

An educational hearing following the general session at the Grain Congress will feature an ethanol manufacturer that utilizes both wheat straw and sorghum stalks to manufacture cellulose ethanol.

Invited speakers to the general session include Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns and Rep. Jim Nussle, Iowa congressman and chairman of the House Budget Committee.

Other speakers include Gary Blumenthal, who will focus on trade policy, and Ed Barlow, who will discuss future trends.

The Grain Congress will also give producers the opportunity to learn about new markets and products through tabletop displays and educational hearings. A research session will be held Feb 22.

Register online at www.graincongress.org or call NGSP toll-free at 800-658-9808 to request a registration form. Make hotel reservations at John Ascuaga’s Nugget Hotel and Casino by calling 800-648-1177. Ask for the special Grain Congress rate of $85.