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Did Joe Biden just give a plug for farm digesters?

Updated: Mar 17, 2021

If you happened to catch Joe Biden's socially-distanced, outdoor town hall meeting broadcast last night from Moosic, PA, you might have heard the candidate's short story about how poultry farmers in his home state of Delaware are utilizing anaerobic digesters to convert chicken manure into fertilizer. He went on to suggest that manure digesters, which generate renewable biogas, could play a key role in helping farmers make more money and enjoy more financial security, all while protecting the environment.

As the American Biogas Council noted, it was not a perfect explanation of how a farm digester operates or the numerous benefits from biogas production. Nonetheless, it's notable that digester technology, and is relevance to a struggling agricultural industry, was at the forefront of the former Vice President's mind at a time in his campaign when he is being called upon to make his priorities and policies clear to the voting public.

That message is likely to resonate in states like North Carolina, which has among the highest biomethane potential of any state in the US. As the Fayetteville Observer noted in its coverage of the Biden town hall:

Basically, Joe Biden signaled he knows that turning cost centers, like manure management, into profit centers — like renewable energy and value-added products — is good for farmers. It’s also great for North Carolina. A 2016 study estimates developing the state’s biogas would support approximately 2,200 new jobs for a decade and a half to come, or 34,000 job-years.

The Observer went on to note:

For farmers, turning manure into renewable energy and other value-added products means crucial new income streams and easier ways to meet environmental standards. For rural communities, it means jobs, the establishment of new businesses, an increased tax base, and better environmental outcomes.

There is still a long way to go in this election, but it is promising to think that biogas digesters will likely play a key role in the agricultural and environmental policies of a Biden administration. That would be good for farmers in North Carolina and across the country.

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