“To produce good crops farmers must have good weather, water and fertilizer — but the common denominator is energy,” says former USDA Under-Secretary of Agriculture Gale Buchanan.

Speaking at the recent annual meeting of the Southern Peanut Growers Association, Buchanan says a key to solving energy problems and invigorating agriculture in the U.S. and worldwide is to invest billions, not millions, into meaningful research efforts that could change the very fiber of energy production and consumption worldwide.

Buchanan, who is a former dean of agriculture at both Auburn University and the University of Georgia, says simply talking about energy problems won’t work.

For example, he says the U.S. Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act in 2007, which called for production of 36 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol by 2025.

The same act mandated we use 500 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol by 2011 and 550 million gallons this year.  “Though we have several pilot plants and big plans, we are essentially using no cellulosic ethanol today,” he says

There are so called energy experts on both sides of the issue. One says our global energy is secure and virtually never-ending and another paints a truly frightening picture of the future of energy for the world, Buchanan says.

A July issue of the New York Times magazine Smart Money included a nine-page series of article titled, “The Return of Fossil Fuel.”

The story paints a very optimistic picture of the future of fossil fuel use in the United and the world.

“The big question is what do you think? You can pick an expert on either side of the issue or buy into the picture being painted by top media outlets, or you can decide for yourself where we stand and what we need to do about it,” Buchanan says.