Grant spurs Monroe farmers group’s work on crops for biodiesel

A small group of Snohomish County farmers will soon receive federal funds to boost its ability to grow and store large quantities of crops for use in making biodiesel.

The Sno/Sky Agriculture Alliance of Monroe will spend its $96,806 grant on constructing facilities for canola, mustard and other oilseed crops harvested by its six members.

Dale Reiner of Monroe, leader of the alliance, said the dollars will cover about a third of the cost to build up to six silos, each capable of holding 20,000 bushels. These would be erected on land next to the old Honor Farm in Monroe and a new biogas digester plant now under construction. Farmers will cover the rest of the project’s costs.

What is harvested will get trucked to Cathcart Way, where Snohomish County is in the midst of a $1.2 million project to establish a regional facility for drying, crushing and preparing seed crops for conversion into fuel.

Fuel won’t be made at the county-run operation. The processed material will be sent to a plant in Anacortes, with some of the resulting fuel brought back to be pumped into the gas tanks of county-owned vehicles.

A second federal grant awarded June 30 aims to help a Duvall dairy farmer learn if he too can become involved in this sprouting industry in Snohomish County.

The Institute for Washington’s Future of Seattle will receive $28,650 to study the feasibility of Jason Roetcisoender’s setting up a business for planting and harvesting crops that can be brought to the Cathcart Way facility for processing.

Don Hopps, director of the institute, said Roetcisoender is not a grower and would serve as an intermediary between farmers and the county-run operation.

“The benefits will hopefully blossom out from the center the county is creating,” Hopps said.

Funding to the farmers’ alliance and the institute came through the Rural Business Enterprise Grant program of the United State Department of Agriculture.

They are among $2.7 million doled out by the federal department to stimulate creation of new jobs and businesses in rural areas.

Reporter Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623 or

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