- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 28, 2014

VALLEY CITY, N.D. (AP) - Informational meetings are being held in several North Dakota cities this week to update farmers on the effort to develop a biofuel sugar beet industry in the state.

The development of beets as a new industrial crop to turn into ethanol is a partnership between Fargo-based Green Vision Group and Iowa-based Heartland Renewable Energy. North Dakota State University is leading the research component.

Informational meetings began Tuesday in Jamestown and Valley City and were continuing Wednesday in Cando and Carrington and Thursday in Langdon.

“(Officials) are determining the interest of the growers in those areas to see where they’re going to build the first plant,” Randy Grueneich, an NDSU Extension Service agent in Barnes County, told KOVC radio.

David Ripplinger, an NDSU bioenergy economist, said in a statement that farmer involvement is critical not only because the choice of a site for a processing plant is dependent on the local availability of so-called energy beets but also because farmers need to plan ahead.

“Because beets are sensitive to certain herbicides, and commercial processing is scheduled to begin in 2017, farmers need to plan ahead to determine which fields can be used,” he said.

Green Vision Group has said the goal is to eventually build a dozen processing facilities throughout North Dakota, which produces nearly one-fifth of the nation’s sugar beets.

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