Time to Vote

I voted. Have you?

It really is a civic duty and I hope you’ll take the time today to get it done. I’m not writing this to encourage you to vote for a certain person or issue. Hopefully you will have become familiar with the issues in your state and know what to do. As far as the Presidential race, you’ve got a clear choice. I can’t see how anyone can be undecided.

So, let’s get out there and get it done. The results will have a major impact on how we run our businesses in this country and you folks involved in the renewable fuels industry will not be unaffected. If you want to know my vote I’ll be happy to tell you. If you know me well you already know!

I don’t know if you use FourSquare but if you check in from your voting location using the #IVoted hashtag you’ll show up on their voting map.

Oilseed Processing Facility Foreclosure Auction

Maas Companies of Rochester, MN will liquidate the former Northwood Mills Oilseed Plant, a state of the art oilseed processing facility located outside of Grand Forks, North Dakota at a Sheriff’s Foreclosure Auction on November 27. The auction will be conducted on-site at the plant, 530 35th Street NE, Northwood, North Dakota. Here is some more information:

Northwood Mills opened its doors in 2007 but struggled with the economic conditions and volatile pricing for its products. The 40 Acre plant operated for approximately two years, the equipment is pristine and ready for a new owner. The auction offers the plant for sale as one lot including all real estate, process and auxiliary equipment, storage and completed furnished office space. Originally the plant was used for soybean crushing but later crushed canola, sunflowers, corn germ and flax with outputs ranging from 200-300/tons per day. The plant offers excellent access to transportation for both raw materials and finished products via highway and rail with expansion availability for a 30 car rail spur on the BNSF line.

Maas Companies Inc, a company specializing in the selling of commercial and industrial assets of Rochester, Minnesota will conduct the auction. Tyler Maas, Sales & Marketing Director states, “the sheriff’s foreclosure sale offers the plant to a new buyer at a significant savings over the approximate $10.2 million dollars that was spent to design and build the facility. In this economy, an auction offers new buyers a great economic opportunity.”

Check open house dates after the break. Continue reading

Promoting Ethanol at Chicagoland Speedway

The President of the Chicagoland Speedway believes that Illinois Farmers and American Ethanol have been great partners for NASCAR.

“NASCAR’s a great platform for them to get their important message out there about the role that farmers play in our overall well being,” said Scott Paddock during an interview at Saturday’s Dollar General 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race. “And also the value of American ethanol and that blend. If it’s good enough for the world’s best stock car drivers, it’s certainly good enough for American consumers,” Paddock added, noting that ethanol is a cleaner burning fuel and helps the country be less dependent on foreign oil.

The Chicagoland race featured an Illinois Family Farmers exhibit in Champions Park outside the track that featured lots of information about agriculture, corn and ethanol, as well as a farm equipment display by New Holland, the Official Agricultural Equipment of NASCAR®.

Listen to an interview with Scott here: Interview with Scott Paddock

2012 NASCAR Dollar General 300 Race Photos

American Ethanol Car Driver Austin Dillon

This morning at Chicagoland Speedway the driver of the American Ethanol car, Austin Dillon, paid a visit to the Family Farmers exhibit in Champions Park outside the track. He made some remarks to the people who had gathered around to see him before signing autographs.

I was able to get a moment with Austin. He says he’s always excited to come to the midwestern tracks in the heart of corn country where a majority of the feedstock that’s making the Sunoco Green E15 he’s racing on is grown. He’s glad that corn growers can come out to see him race and have a good time at the track.

Listen to my interview with Austin here: Interview with Austin Dillon

Listen to Austin’s remarks to the crowd here: Austin Dillon Remarks

I just updated my photos from here at the track and you can find them here: 2012 NASCAR Dollar General 300 Race Photos

NASCAR Race Weekend in Chicago

At the NASCAR Fuel for Business Council® meeting in Chicago, New Holland became the Official Agricultural Equipment of NASCAR®. Here’s New Holland on display outside of Chicagoland Speedway for this weekend’s NASCAR races. I’ll be covering the Nationwide Series Dollar General 300. In fact, I’m out at the track working with Illinois Family Farmers and the Illinois Corn Growers. You know these cars will be racing on Sunoco Green E15, a 15-percent ethanol blend fuel made with corn grown in the United States!

New Holland, the latest NASCAR Official Partner, has served the needs of farmers and ranchers across North America for more than 110 years, and its equipment plays a critical role in the production of ethanol.

“We are proud of our newly expanded alliance with NASCAR and the role our equipment plays in helping power the sport,” said Abe Hughes, vice president of New Holland, North America. “We are the agricultural industry’s Clean Energy Leader, and are looking forward to further enhancing our 30-year relationship with a sport that is pushing the bar on clean and efficient fuel that is not only helping to restore America’s energy independence, but also serves to strengthen American farmers and the rural economy. New Holland stands 100% behind this impact.”

While I was out at the track yesterday I ran into Mark Schneidewind, farmer and manager of Will County Farm Bureau. He was helping set up the exhibit area for Illinois Family farmers. Listen to my interview with Mark to get a preview of the action for race fans when they come out to the track: Interview with Mark Schneidewind

I’ll be taking photos through tomorrow’s Dollar General 300 race and you can find them here: 2012 NASCAR Dollar General 300 Race Photos

Growth Energy Receiving Support From New Holland

New Holland proudly displayed its support for the ethanol industry during the 2012 Farm Progress Show as you can see on the side of the CR6090 Combine. They are the first major manufacturer of farm equipment to do so in this manner. As part of that initiative New Holland has become a partner with Growth Energy and American Ethanol. They are a “Clean Energy Leader!” I learned more about this partnership from Mark Hooper, New Holland Director, Commercial Growth Initiatives.

Here are some of the reasons New Holland supports what Growth Energy and the ethanol industry is doing:

  • Reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil
  • Energy that is more environmentally friendly
  • Renewable energy that is sustainable over many generations to come
  • Production that produces jobs for rural America – jobs that will not be exported
  • Support and stability for farmers in America and their families

Mark says the partnership helps New Holland get closer to its customers. He says they recognize the impact ethanol has had on its business and farmer customers. Mark says New Holland is actively involved with Growth Energy initiatives and is “going to our dealers and our growers and putting on events across the country where we bring them in and really partner with the local ethanol plant promoting the message of E15, energy independence, food vs. fuel and dispelling the myths that are out there right now.” New Holland is also a partner with American Ethanol as a NASCAR sponsor.

Listen to my interview with Mark here: Interview with Mark Hooper

2012 Farm Progress Show Photo Album

How Do You Handle Data Storage

It doesn’t look like the ag world is ready to embrace the cloud to store precious data. Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “Will you use the cloud to store your data?” According to the results 62% said No, too many risks. Only 20% said Yes, already do and 18% said Yes but looking for better options. So how do you handle the storage of all your data today? Stick it onto an external hard drive? Keep it on your computer’s hard drive? Are you backing up? Do you keep a copy of that data off site? Something to think about if you haven’t already. We don’t use the cloud to store data for the reason that we have lots of data and in order to upload and access it you need more massive internet access capabilities than currently available. Then there’s the whole cost of that storage on an on-going basis. We triple back up our data too. This system is working for us right now.

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, Do ag journalists (broadcast/print/web) adhere to good ethical practices in reporting? This topic of ethics always comes up at meetings like the Ag Media Summit. It usually generates a lively debate. How do ag journalists handle the interaction with advertisers and maintain some kind of neutrality in their reporting? That’s a good question. Our belief is that transparency is the key. We do our best to make sure our sponsors are known and the interviews we do with them are right there for you to listen to directly. Feel free to respond or posts your thoughts here in comments.

ZimmPoll is sponsored by Rhea+Kaiser, a full-service advertising/public relations agency.

RFA Debuts New Open Road Ad

A new ethanol ad has debuted that focuses on the fact that ethanol is saving consumers at the pump.

Following on the success of its long-running “Right Here, Right Now” ads, the Renewable Fuels Association is debuting a new ad which focuses on ethanol’s ability to lower gas prices at the pump and offer consumers relief in a difficult economy.

The “Open Road” campaign is the first of its kind, focusing on ethanol saving consumers money at the pump and improving overall engine performance. In 2011, the ad points out, the use of ethanol helped reduce the average price of gas by $1.09, saving American families $1,200 over the year. Additionally, as a high octane additive, ethanol helps car engines run cleaner and reduces engine knock and pinging.

Are Calls For RFS Waiver Premature?

Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “How will drought impact the Renewable Fuel Standard?” We’re certainly in a major drought at this point and we know it will have an impact on the corn crop. Of course who knows how significant that will be? The next crop report ought to be very interesting.

Our results show that 39 percent think we should Modify for lower ethanol production, 31 percent think No change and 30 percent chose Eliminate entirely. What do you think? Is it a little premature to call for a change?

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, “Will you use the cloud to store your data?” We’re now seeing cloud based data storage specifically designed for the ag industry and there are a growing number of options to store and handle all those records, field maps, photos and more. Is the infrastructure and the services available up to the task? Your data is fast becoming one of your most valuable assets. How are you planning to handle that growth?

ZimmPoll is sponsored by Rhea+Kaiser, a full-service advertising/public relations agency.

Elliott Sadler Wins STP 300

Ethanol had another victory on the NASCAR track today when Elliott Sadler won the Nationwide Series STP 300. The race came out of caution with two laps to go so it made for an exciting finish. Placing 4th today was master agvocate Kenny Wallace, spokesperson for the Illinois Corn Growers Family Farmers.

After the race I asked Elliott what he thinks about racing on a fuel that’s made in part by Illinois corn
growers. He says the initiative that NASCAR has taken to go green in the last couple years is a great one. Since the track is surrounded by corn and soybeans he says, “It’s neat to see something in the field growing. I’m a farmer at home too.”

Then Richard Childress, RCR Racing, chimed in. “In NASCAR we’ve put in almost 4 million miles or maybe a little over by now on E15, American Ethanol blend of fuel. That says a lot for what E15 can do for your car.”

Listen to Elliott and Richard’s remarks here: Elliott Sadler & Richard Childress on Ethanol

Illinois Corn Growers NASCAR Weekend Photo Album

Green Flag for STP 300

E15 is on display again today at the NASCAR Nationwide STP 300 race in Joliet, IL. We had a few raindrops just before the green flag but it dissipated and the race is on.

Prior to the race I spent time with the Illinois Corn Growers Family Farmers High Performance Team. Spokesperson, Kenny Wallace, driver of the 09 car today was on hand. I recorded a conversation he had with Glenn Fritz that I thought you might enjoy. Kenny calls Glenn Fritz “the ultimate farmer.” We were located at Greenfields Campground owned by Glenn.

Glenn has a grandson on the farm that is now the 5th generation of the family on the land. He’s got an interesting story to tell and I hope you’ll enjoy listening to it.

Listen to Kenny and Glenn here: Kenny Wallace and Glenn Fritz

Illinois Corn Growers NASCAR Weekend Photo Album

Winner of American Ethanol 225

The winner of the American Ethanol 225 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race is James Buescher. He’s pictured here in Victory Lane at Chicagoland Speedway. Presenting the trophy is Chairman of the Illinois Corn Marketing Board Bill Christ and Tricia Braid, Communications Director.

During the post race press conference I asked James what he thought of racing on a blend of home grown fuel made by corn farmers. He says “It’s really cool to be able to be part of NASCAR going green. It’s only positive. We’re helping the environment.” By the way, he had to have his carburetor replaced during the race!

Listen to James comment on ethanol here: James Buescher Remarks

Illinois Corn Growers NASCAR Weekend Photo Album

Farmer Waves Green Flag For American Ethanol 225

Illinois corn farmer Donna Jeschke got to wave the green flag for the American Ethanol 225 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race tonight. Donna is ending her term on the board of the Illinois Corn Marketing Board.

She found the experience to be exciting and just a little scary. She says this type of promotion puts what she does as a farmer out in front of the public to help them better understand where their food comes from.

This is just the first race of an ethanol sponsored weekend at Chicagoland Speedway. You’ll be able to find more interviews over the next few days on the Illinois Corn Growers Corn Corps Blog.

Listen to my interview with Donna here: Interview with Donna Jeschke

Listen to the race invocation and national anthem here: Invocation/National Anthem

Listen to Mark Marquis, Marquis Energy, make the “Drivers, start your engines” call here: Start Your Engines

Illinois Corn Growers NASCAR Weekend Photo Album

Ethanol and Farmers on NASCAR Track

It’s NASCAR race weekend in Joliet, IL at Chicagoland Speedway. My home today and tomorrow. I’m joining the Illinois Corn Growers and Family Farmers for two races. First up will be tonight’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series American Ethanol 225.

Then on Sunday we’ve got the second annual STP 300 which is part of the NASCAR Nationwide Series. The Sprint Cup Series has the weekend off.

Family Farmers cannot be missed at the event, with a 17,000 square foot exhibit area onsite to be complemented with both a Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series “Family Farmers” entry. This work is aimed at improving the trust between consumers and family farmers. In corn checkoff funded research, it was revealed that most influential people in the Chicago area think that corporations own most of the farms in Illinois. This erodes the base of support among that same group for issues that are important to farmers regarding regulations, food safety, transportation, and trade.

I’ll be hanging out with Kenny Wallace and Illinois Corn Growers this afternoon. Kenny will be driving the #99 Family Farmers car in the STP 300.

“Chicagoland Speedway is a great track for me. We finished seventh in this race last year with our Family Farmers Toyota Camry. Since they closed Gateway International Raceway in 2010, Chicago has become sort of like a home track for me since it is only about four hours away from my hometown of St. Louis. Not only that, but it is the home of Family Farmers and American Ethanol, so I want to run well for them and I feel confident that we will run well.”

So, look for photos and interviews later today and tomorrow from an Illinois NASCAR weekend. See you from the track.

Has Your Business Considered Using Pinterest

Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “Do you prefer corn sugar to high fructose corn syrup?” In what is a first for our poll, the response was split evenly! See the chart below.

Recently the FDA denied a request from the Corn Refiners Association to allow food labels to use the term corn sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. Nutritionally, there is no difference in regular table sugar and HFCS so I don’t see why FDA ruled like they did. Their reasoning had to do with their definition of sugar as a crystalline solid. This is basically a public relations war over words since the “problem” with either cane or corn sugar is how much someone consumes. Nothing wrong with cane sugar or corn sugar, regardless what you call it, in my opinion. I like them both. Apparently consumers like HFCS better according to this story. What do you think? We like all uses of corn and sweetener is one of them as well as ethanol!

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, “Does your business have an interest in Pinterest?” This online pinboard is now being used by political campaigns to target key demographics. Even President Obama’s wife is using it! Seems like there might be some good reason for agribusinesses, farm and food groups to start pinning away. How about it biofuels groups? Are you using it to help educate the public?

ZimmPoll is sponsored by Rhea+Kaiser, a full-service advertising/public relations agency.