About Cindy Zimmerman

Cindy has been reporting about agricultural topics since 1980 when she graduated with a degree in broadcasting from the University of Florida. She is an emeritus member of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters and 1991 Oscar in Agriculture winner. She and her husband Chuck started ZimmComm New Media in 2003. They have three beautiful daughters and live near white sand beaches of Pensacola, Florida.

Wet and Dry Milling Focus of Conference

cutc-14-martinThe 2014 Corn Utilization and Technology Conference is underway in Louisville, Kentucky and this year the focus is on wet and dry milling technologies and new uses.

National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) president Martin Barbre says the event brings together researchers with the common goal of facilitating the next ground-breaking technologies and corn-based products of the future. “It’s a great place for researchers to see what others are doing,” he said. “We also have a very good international focus with visitors and attendees from all four corners of the world.”

As corn growers are just about finished planting what is expected to be another record crop this year, Barbre says they are happy to see increased export demand for corn and the ethanol co-product distillers grains. “When you put an ethanol plant in, it doesn’t change the market (for corn),” he said. “Really there’s only two things that change the market – weather and exports. We’re working hard to increase corn exports worldwide and we’re even working with other countries to open up new markets.” Interview with NCGA president Martin Barbre


2014 CUTC Photo Album

American Ethanol Brings Troops to Tracks

am-eth-troopsAmerican Ethanol “Troops to the Track” program welcomed members of the Armed Forces to the “Monster Mile” at Dover International Speedway this past weekend.

The program, which is administered by the Armed Forces Foundation, welcomed service members and their families from Dover Air Force Base (AFB) to the Sprint Cup Series race that was won by Jimmie Johnson on Sunday. American Ethanol partner Growth Energy is a supporter of the Armed Forces Foundation. Through the Fueling Our Forces program, Growth Energy raises more than $100,000 annually for the organization and programs that go to support this generation of servicemen and women.

“Support of our service members is a key goal for American Ethanol,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis. “We recognize their sacrifice and work, and we will continue to expanded ethanol choices for consumers, which will take more of our troops out of harm’s way in the future.”

House Members Claim Majority Want RFS Changed

A coalition of U.S. House of Representatives member opposed to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) claim that a bipartisan majority of members “have expressed concerns regarding the current ethanol mandate.”

USCapitol22In a press release, Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Steve Womack (R-Ark.), and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) announced that 218 Members of the House agree “there is a serious problem with the RFS.”

“It is telling that 218 members from both sides of the aisle, representing communities across the nation, have spoken out against the current RFS and called for reform. The flawed ethanol mandate has a real impact on the American economy, and legislation in the House to reform the RFS has drawn the support of more the 50 organizations representing a diverse range of issues. There is clearly a growing appetite to reform the ethanol mandate, and it is time for the EPA to address lawmakers’ concerns. Any day now, the EPA is expected to announce the final rule governing 2014 RFS levels. As the final rule is written, we urge Administrator McCarthy to carefully consider the concerns of a majority of House lawmakers in any decision and take action to reduce the burden of the RFS for 2014.”

A spokesperson for Goodlatte’s office says the 218 members of Congress referenced in the release is “a culmination of Members who have either cosponsored H.R. 1462 or H.R. 1461 or signed onto one of the many letters sent on the topic.” The office did not provide a list of members they say have “recognized there is a problem with the current RFS.”

RFA Calls EWG Report Flawed

RFANewlogoThe Renewable Fuels Association is disputing findings of an Environmental Working Group report released today entitled, “Ethanol’s Broken Promise: Using Less Corn Ethanol Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions.”

RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen says the report relies on “overblown and disputed assumptions of land use change, making ethanol from corn appear to be worse than gasoline,” which he calls “simply preposterous particularly when contrasted with the ever-rising greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from tar sands and fracking.”

“The Department of Energy’s GREET model clearly shows that corn ethanol reduces GHG emissions by 34 percent compared to gasoline, including hypothetical land use change emissions,” says Dinneen in a statement. “Additionally, a Life Cycle Associates study found that corn ethanol reduces GHG emissions by 37–40 percent when compared to tight oil from fracking and tar sands.”

The EWG report claims “that the federal corn ethanol mandate has driven up food prices, strained agricultural markets, increased competition for arable land and promoted conversion of uncultivated land to grow crops.” Stay tuned for more reaction from the ethanol industry on this report.

Former Ethanol Car Driver Wins Indy 500

ryan-indyIt was mid-season in 2007 when Ryan Hunter-Reay burst on the IndyCar Series scene wearing the green and blue ethanol logo for Rahal-Letterman Racing. He finished 6th in his first Indy 500 in 2008 and won Rookie of the Year. This year he came in first.

“I’m a proud American boy, that’s for sure,” said Hunter-Reay, who is the first American since 2006 to win the race. He now races for Andretti Autosport driving the DHL car.

ryan-2014Ryan was not the first ethanol IndyCar driver. He replaced Jeff Simmons, after Simmons replaced the first driver Paul Dana, who was killed during practice in Homestead at the first Indy race to run on 10% ethanol. Ryan was the third and last driver of the car sponsored by the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC), which dissolved in 2008 to become part of Growth Energy.

In his first interview with Domestic Fuel after being named the new driver, Ryan talked about how pleased he was to promote ethanol as the IndyCar Series moved to 100 percent ethanol. “It’s a really neat story that they can make these 700 horsepower, 230 mile an hour cars run on 100 percent ethanol, and the fact that we can use less fuel doing it – with methanol we had to use more,” he said. 2007 Ryan Hunter-Reay Interview

Starting in the 2009 season, Brazil become the new sponsor of the 100 percent ethanol IndyCar Series, but Ryan still raced a few more times under the Team Ethanol banner at the Iowa Corn Indy 250 and has always been a strong advocate for ethanol. Congratulations on winning the big one this year, Ryan!

Corn Growers Fight AAA Stance on Ethanol

aaa-cancelThe Missouri Corn Growers Association (MCGA) is fighting back at AAA for disparaging the state’s recent action allowing the retail sale of 15% ethanol blended gasoline (E15).

MCGA CEO Gary Marshall took AAA to task in a letter to the organization’s president and canceled his longtime membership following public statements misrepresenting the benefits of E15. A St. Louis Post Dispatch article following approval of E15 sales in Missouri quoted AAA as saying that “90 percent of the cars on the road are not approved by automakers to use the fuel. That could void warranties and cause engine damage.” That quote is from a November 2013 statement by AAA president Roger Darbelnet.

In his letter to Darbelnet, Marshall corrected that statement with the facts.

Approximately 80 percent of the vehicles on the road today are 2001 or newer and approved by the EPA to use the ethanol blend. Add to that, more than 60 percent of 2014 vehicles sold this year will be explicitly warranted and approved by the manufacturer to operate on E15. In terms of possible engine damage, E15 is sold in 12 other states with no issues reported. We are unaware of AAA’s Roadside Assistance program picking up a single driver stranded alongside the road due to an engine issue caused by E15.

Marshall informed Darbelnet that he is canceling his 33-year AAA membership because he refuses “to support an organization so clearly aligned with the oil industry.”

Ethanol Conference Themed Power by People

ace-14-themeRegistration is now open for the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) 27th annual Ethanol Conference scheduled for August 4-6 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The theme of the event is “Power by People” and the agenda includes sessions on new innovations in the ethanol industry, the octane and high performance potential of ethanol, overseas opportunities for ethanol producers, rail regulations and possible long-term improvements of the domestic rail system, and much more. A Retailer Roundtable entitled “Power to the People” focusing on the sale and marketing of higher ethanol blends will also be featured.

Domestic Fuel will be covering the conference, thanks to the generous support of ACE and Patriot Renewable Fuels, so please be sure to join us. This conference is more important than ever before to the ethanol industry. Find out more and register today.

Forecast for Greater GHG Reduction from Ethanol

A new report forecasts global ethanol consumption will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions this year by over 106 million tons.

global-rfaThe Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA), in cooperation with (S&T)2 Consultants Inc., released their Global Green House Gas (GHG) Emissions Reduction Forecast for 2014 as the International Transport Forum Summit begins today in Germany.

The annual report shows the reduction in global GHG emissions from global ethanol production is increasing. This year’s figure reveals that 90.38 billion litres of global ethanol production and use in 2014 will reduce global GHG emissions by over 291,000 tonnes per day. Compared to 2013, this is an increase of over 7000 tonnes per day in GHG emission savings.

According to GRFA, the 106.4 million ton GHG emissions reduction is equal to over 21 million cars being removed from the world’s roads in 2014, about 58,000 per day.

“We believe International Transport Forum Summit participants should call for an increase in ethanol production and use given the significant contribution ethanol is making to reducing global GHG emissions today,” said GRFA spokesman Bliss Baker. This year’s theme for the International Transport Forum Summit is “Transport for a Changing World”.

USDA Renews Biomass Crop Assistance

Biomass producers and energy facilities can soon apply for assistance to turn renewable biomass materials into clean energy under the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

usda-fsaThe Farm Bill authorizes $25 million annually for BCAP, requiring between 10 and 50 percent of the total funding to be used for harvest and transportation of biomass residues. Traditional food and feed crops are ineligible for assistance. The 2014 Farm Bill also enacted several modifications for BCAP, including higher incentives for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, and narrower biomass qualifications for matching payments, among other changes.

Farm Service Agency
Administrator Juan Garcia says the initiative helps farmers and ranchers manage the financial risk of growing and harvesting energy biomass at commercial scale. “Investing in agricultural and forestry producers who cultivate energy biomass and supporting next-generation biofuels facilities make America more energy independent, help combat climate change and create jobs in rural America.”

“The potential to achieve transformational progress on biomass energy in rural America and generate tremendous economic opportunities is very promising,” added Garcia. “Energy crops occupy the space between production and conservation, providing opportunities for marginal land, crop diversity and more energy feedstock choices.”

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), which administers BCAP, will coordinate BCAP enrollments. Information on funding availability will be published in an upcoming Federal Register notice.

Ethanol on the Rails

ethanol-report-adIn the last couple of weeks there have been two derailments of trains carrying crude oil, one in Virginia on April 30 and one in Colorado on May 9. These incidents are just the latest in a string of accidents that began last summer when a runaway oil train carrying Bakken crude derailed and exploded in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing 47 people. Other trains carrying Bakken crude have derailed and caught fire in Alabama, North Dakota, and New Brunswick, Canada.

rail-fireWhile crude oil has been the common denominator in these accidents, ethanol has been caught in the cross fire despite its nearly perfect safety record in rail transportation.

In this edition of “The Ethanol Report,” Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen discusses the safety record of ethanol shipments via the DOT-111A railcar, RFA’s program of safety training and best practices within the ethanol industry, and the need to focus on the root cause of recent derailments, track conditions and human error, and not exclusively on railcar design. Most importantly, he emphasizes “ethanol is not oil.”

Ethanol Report with RFA president Bob Dinneen on rail safety

Subscribe to “The Ethanol Report” with this link.

DuPont CEO Calls for Supporting RFS

dupont-kullmanThe CEO of DuPont today called on Congress and the administration to preserve Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

In a keynote speech at the 11th Annual World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology, DuPont Chair and CEO Ellen Kullman said preserving the RFS would ensure regulatory stability for the renewable fuel industry and continue to encourage “private investment from companies like DuPont to create a sustainable bio-based economy.”

“Legislative and regulatory uncertainty has a direct impact on the growth of this industry,” Kullman said. “If the EPA issues an RFS rule with increasing biofuels volumes, supporting a stable regulatory environment, our industry can thrive.”

DuPont has invested heavily in the future of renewable fuels and will soon complete one of the world’s largest commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol biorefineries, set to open in Iowa later this year. DuPont committed over $200 million to the project, which will yield 30 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year, produced from corn stalks, leaves and cobs left in fields after harvest.

Kullman attended the BIO World Congress to accept the 2014 George Washington Carver Award, which each year honors one individual in the private sector, government or academia for leadership in using industrial biotechnology innovation.

Five Reasons To Love the RFS

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) has created a new video that briefly and creatively outlines five major reasons why the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is good for America.

1. The RFS saves money – 50 cents to $1.50 per gallon last year
2. The RFS reduces oil imports – ethanol displaced $48 billion in imported oil last year
3. The RFS cuts greenhouse gas emissions – equivalent of taking 7.9 million cars off the road
4. The RFS creates jobs – 86,000 direct and 300,000 indirect jobs from ethanol
5. The RFS spurs investment and innovation – cellulosic ethanol is here today

What’s not to love? Watch and share.

Reuters Story at Odds with Philly Energy Independence

novo-phillyThe mayor of Philadelphia delivered a “Declaration of Energy Independence” today to recognize the city’s and region’s contributions to domestic energy and energy security. At the same time Reuters broke a story claiming that Philadelphia oil refinery connections were the main forces behind the Obama administration proposal to lower volume requirements for biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) this year.

Mayor Michael Nutter’s declaration proclamation was made at the request of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and Novozymes, marking the start of BIO’s World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology.

philly-energyAccording to the article, it was The Carlyle Group and Delta Air Lines, owners of two refineries in the Philadelphia area, that put the pressure on the administration to cut back on biofuels requirements by convincing policymakers that “the rising mandates would cripple their businesses and threaten thousands of jobs.”

The article claims that two Pennsylvania congressman were called on to take the refiners’ concerns about the RFS to the White House, and that in July and August of last year, “17 refiners and their allies visited the White House’s rulemaking arm, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to discuss the RFS. Only six biofuel supporters visited the OMB over the same time.” Reuters even produced a graphic to illustrate the comparison between visits by oil and ethanol lobbying interests last year.

Read the story here.

USDA Predicts Another Record Corn Crop

usda-logoThe U.S. Department of Agriculture released its initial assessment of the nation’s corn crop for the coming year on Friday, calling for another record based on the March 31
Prospective Plantings report.

Corn production is projected at 13.9 billion bushels, up slightly from the 2013/14 record with higher expected yields more than offsetting the year-to-year reduction in planted area. The corn yield is projected at 165.3 bushels per acre, up 6.5 bushels from 2013/14, based on a weather adjusted yield trend model and assuming normal mid-May planting progress and summer weather.

Farm organizations welcomed the news but sounded a note of caution.

corn-plant-14“America’s corn farmers continuously strive to improve and, in 2014, they certainly will make their achievements evident should these projections be realized,” said National Corn Growers Association Chairwoman Pam Johnson. “As farmers, we take great pride in our work and feel that the projections recognize our efforts. Yet, our optimism is tinged caution as we have all seen conditions change quickly and a crop shift course in a few short weeks.”

“Farmers are still out there facing the reality of unpredictable weather as they work to get their crops in the ground, favorable weather during the growing season and then cooperative weather again at harvest time,” added American Farm Bureau Federation crops economist Todd Davis. “There’s still a long way to go before the crops are in the bin.”

The USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand estimate projects U.S. corn use for 2014/15 will be two percent lower than in 2013/14, while corn used to produce ethanol in 2014/15 is expected to be unchanged on the year with gasoline consumption expected to remain flat in 2015.

New Record Distillers Grains Exports

Distillers grains exports set a new monthly record in March, while U.S. ethanol exports rebounded from the previous month, according to the latest numbers.

distillers-grainsThe Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) reports that March exports of U.S. distillers grains, which is the animal feed co-product from dry mill ethanol plants, were a record 1.16 million metric tons. March shipments were up 28% from February and topped the one million mark for just the fourth time in history. China accounted for half of the export shipments, with Mexico and South Korea taking the second and third place slots. Year-to-date, distillers grains exports as of March totaled 2.97 million metric tons, a 65% increase over the same period a year ago, putting the U.S. on pace to export a record 11.9 million metric tons this year.

At the same time, total U.S. ethanol exports, including both denatured and undenatured, were 84.0 million gallons in March, up 25% over February and just slightly below the January total of 86.2 million gallons. Canada and Brazil were top destinations in March, with both the Philippines and Nigeria re-entering the market. Meanwhile, U.S. ethanol imports totaled just 5.3 million gallons in March, making the United States a net exporter by a wide margin for the seventh straight month.