Long-time Mississippi farmer Bruce Craft started operating some of his heavy farm equipment with bio-diesel fuel when diesel gas prices sky-rocketed over $4.00 a gallon.
"To be honest, we started trying to do it to keep the cost of our fuel down," Craft said.
Craft's goal is to use 20% bio-diesel on all of his farm machinery. But production has slowed now that fuel costs are down. And a 99 cent credit from the federal government to make bio-diesel fuel has been eliminated. It costs the family farmers more to make it than it has in the past.
"It costs us about a dollar a gallon to make it, so really, it's not cost-effective right now," said Craft.
But that's subject to change, as the Craft farm was one of several stops for officials from USDA. The nationwide goal is to help rural America expand economic growth through use of renewable energy sources.
"We tend to want to transport things long distances," said Dallas Tonsager, USDA Undersecretary for Rural Development. "Well what's wrong with producing it locally and selling it locally? It makes a lot of sense and it keeps your local economy going."
"We're constantly working with private land owners to improve the way we grow crops and the way we conduct our business," said Harris Sherman, USDA Undersecretary for Natural resources and Environment.
The Crafts are firm believers that if everyone used even a small amount of alternative fuels every day, the economy just might take care of itself.
"If we can just replace 10% of our energy with alternative crops, that's 10% of our money that's not going out of the country," said Craft.
Through the Rural Energy for America Grant Program, the USDA issued over $210,000 in federal grants to eight different farmers in Mississippi.