The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released its updated analysis of government payments. It reports that about ⅔ of the $12.2 billion in farm payments made in 2002 went to 10% of the recipients. There were 1.7 million recipients of government farm payments last year and $8 billion went to just over 170,000 people or businesses. For the full analysis, log on to www.ewg.org/farm.

Based in Washington, D.C., EWG is a not-for-profit environmental research organization.

New Biodiesel Refinery

A new 30-million-gallon biodiesel refinery will be built at the Minnesota Soybean Processors facility in Brewster, MN. The Minnesota 2% biodiesel mandate that became law last year requires the state have an 8 million gallon biodiesel production capacity by June 30, 2005, before the mandate will be implemented.

Group Effort To Advance Ethanol

Boosting ethanol consumption is the goal of a new program by Monsanto, General Motors (GM) and the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC). GM and NEVC are working with Monsanto's “Fuel Your Profits” program by offering incentives to: 1) grow more of Monsanto's Processor Preferred high fermentable corn, 2) buy more GM E85 vehicles, and 3) add more E85 pumps at service stations.

FFA Going Strong

Even though farm numbers continue to decline, young peoples' interest in agriculture is soaring. The National FFA reports its membership has hit a 19-year high. A big factor, says FFA, is that ag instructors recruit among all students, not just those from farms.