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Myrtleford may start Vic ethanol crop production

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Many local farmers have been searching for a new crop to boost their income and the local economy. Maybe ethanol producing crops are the answer. It is certainly a ground floor opportunity to replace crops such as tobacco throughout the North East region.

These words were published in a March 2005 Watchdog article titled, Are we ready for Ethanol in our petrol? Today, the Border Mail reports that …

Green fuel could fill void
Bid to find replacement for tobacco

AN Alpine councillor says providing the raw ingredients to make biofuels could offer an alternative to tobacco growers.

Nino Mautone says the world is hungry for clean, green fuel and it is a ready-made replacement for the tobacco farmers abandoned by cigarette makers.

Last month, 138 tobacco growers were told the industry would cease in 2008.

British American Tobacco has offered the Myrtleford growers $10 million over two years to pay out their existing contract with the Tobacco Co-operative of Victoria.

“The tobacco land is ideal for crops like corn, maize or sugar beets,” Cr Mautone said.

“All can be harvested to produce an alcohol base for the biofuels market.

“Excess grapes could also be used.”

But he is hoping more ideas come from the community.

“We are asking members of the public who may have ideas, especially in regard to alternate crops for tobacco land, to please come forward,” Cr Mautone said.

“A few years ago we did a series of horticultural trials with different crops.

“Asparagus, cabbages and cauliflowers were all grown with some success.”

By success Cr Mautone means there was no residue from the harsh chemicals used on the tobacco land in previous generations.

“The only vegetables to have significant residue were leeks and lettuces,” he said.

Alpine council will also take a community and economic strategic response plan to government, in light of multiple challenges facing the shire.

These include the frost-ravaged grape crop and the threat to the long-term viability of tourist icon Mt Buffalo chalet.

At Tuesday night’s monthly meeting, council voted to ask for government help with a feasibility study of alternate agricultural uses for tobacco land as well as business planning support for farmers and small businesses.

Other items considered under the plan include researching ways to increase the shire industry base, progressing the revitalisation of Myrtleford and completing the alternate rail trail link around that town.


Written by Greg Naylor

5 October 2006 at 7:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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