Biofuels and their co-products play a crucial role in the food chain and should not be seen as a trade-off for edible crop production, the NFU has said.
Establishing bio-refineries would allow crops to be converted into biofuel, high protein animal feed and other co-products, while reducing environmental impact, NFU president Peter Kendall told delegates at a European Parliament seminar in Brussels on Tuesday (5 October).
“This is about efficient use of land with, initially, two commodity products from a single land area – sustainable biofuel and high protein feed.”
He said the role these co-products played in food markets was often missing from the “sometimes simplistic” debate about sustainable biofuels. Biofuel co-products such as dried distillers grains, sugar beet pulp and oilseed meals offered an important source of protein for livestock feed and helped to reduce reliance on imported crops, he added.
Sustainable biofuels also provided a new market for cereals and oilseeds helping to maintain highly skilled arable production capacity in the EU. This would ensure agriculture could respond effectively and efficiently to future demands in food and non-food markets.
Adding diversity to fuel supplies, increasing energy security, economic competitiveness and the creation of green jobs were other benefits, he said.
The speech comes at a crucial time when biofuels will have to increasingly prove their sustainability and greenhouse gas credentials – particularly to meet EU policy targets in 2020.
“This will be the first policy to set standards as a condition of market access, but the production of sustainable biofuels does not represent just a choice between food and fuel,” said Mr Kendall.