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The place of algae in agriculture: policies for algal biomass production

March 2014

Emily M. Trentacoste, Alice M. Martinez, Tim Zenk


The article makes note of the myriad of potential applications of algae production including efficient sources of food, pharmaceuticals, and bio-fuels. The article then argues that, despite the many positive applications of algae, current federal and state subsidies and programs typically exclude algae in their definition of agriculture even though the cultivation and uses contain significant overlap. The article further argues that algae production will become a significant player in future economic progress, especially since it has the potential to create cheap renewable fuel sources, and because unlike other forms of agriculture the water used to create it can be small and saline rich.

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Policy Implications

This article lays out a host of policy options that would help push algae production towards the levels of other forms of agriculture. First and foremost, the article calls for the recognition of algae as agriculture at federal, state, and local levels. However, many smaller improvements are suggested such as access to loan programs for algae producers, crop insurance programs, research extension services, and environmental incentive programs. Ultimately however, the article makes a call for government at any level to give more support in any form in order to gain in edge as biofuels become increasingly important.

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