Rebuilding Regional Opportunities for Sustainable Fuels: Lessons from Fort Pierce, FL F2F2 Efforts

In 2013, CAAFI, its private sector sponsors and government partners, including USDA and FAA, kicked-off the 5 year Farm to Fly 2.0 (F2F2) coalition to facilitate “bottoms up” development of state and regional sustainable alternative jet fuel (SAJF) supply chains. There is no better example of “bottoms up” execution than the outcomes of the F2F2 project in Fort Pierce, FL. The project used a modest USDA Rural Development grant to develop the foundation for a commercial supply of SAJF in the region.

This F2F2 project was created in response to Florida’s citrus crop crisis. These crops have been reduced to WWII levels by citrus greening leaving hundreds of thousands of acres fallow. Proving the feasibility of a new crop and motivating farmers to grow it is vital. With growing airline service in the region and the need to fill the gap left by the failing citrus crop, this project offers the possibility of wide-spread community benefits.

What has been learned that can be applied in other states and regions?
• Leaders that are well connected from the farm to State House in the project area are a key factor in achieving successful outcomes. The leadership of entrepreneur Ben Devries, rancher Mike Adams and the Treasure Coast Education, Research, and Development Authority was essential to the project’s success.
• Visible customer demand and processor engagement is critical. End users (American, FedEx, Jet Blue and DLA Energy) joined 150+ stakeholders in displaying interest in developing the chain. Five major bio-coproduct processors employing sugar pathways also shared their requirements.
• A focus on supply chain development that benefits all stakeholders must include co-products. FL F2F2 spurred the citrus and cattle feed industries to define a production path using a RFS2 candidate feedstock (sugar beets) to increase success probability.
• Aviation stakeholders can motivate supply chain development beyond SAJF by leveraging systems integration, technical capabilities and public-private partnerships. We win when the “tide” rises for all.
• Ultimate success will be local, and can be triggered by small grants.

I urge CAAFI stakeholders to evaluate what the FL project teams accomplished with USDA Rural Development.

Follow the TE(A)Mplate. It will serve you well!
Rich Altman, Executive Director Emeritus

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