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.
Senate Agriculture Committee chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) is asking the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to review allegations of manipulation in the markets for Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs), the tracking mechanism to ensure petroleum blenders and refiners meet their requirements under the Renewable Fuels Standard.
Press reports have highlighted potential speculation and manipulation of the unregulated markets, possibly contributing to recent market volatility and spikes in price.
“I would like the CFTC to help determine whether factors other than supply and demand have been causing extraordinary volatility in the price of RINs and to what extent fraud and manipulation have been affecting the price of RINs,” Stabenow wrote to CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler. “I am concerned that a lack of transparency in these markets has made them more susceptible to manipulation. If this is the case, it is a problem that must be identified and fixed.”
Jim Miller, vice president and chief economist with Growth Energy, notes that RINS were something the oil industry requested when the RFS was being drafted to provide flexibility. “But there has been what appears to be some gaming, both in terms of speculation, as well as hoarding of RINS,” he said in an interview today with Domestic Fuel. “I think it’s interesting that the price of RINS skyrocketed just about the same time that the House was holding hearings on the RFS.” Since that time the price of RINS has dropped to about a third of what it was earlier this year. “That seems to me to be a bit odd,” he added.
Foro PAIS Communications and Institutional Relations Director Dr. Adrián Figueroa says soybean production is a huge industry for Argentina. “Soybean production in Argentina in the last ten years has permitted this country to be the first exporter in biodiesel, soybean meal and soybean oil,” he told us.
One of the main reasons for this is Argentina’s large and technologically advanced crushing facilities near to the ports and production areas. “We have huge plants that can produce almost 20,000 tons per day,” he said. “All the arable land is close to the industry sector so in terms of transportation, the cost is so low.”
The agreement, in which BASF will purchase all of the outstanding shares of Verenium’s common stock for US$4.00 per share, has been unanimously approved by both Verenium’s and BASF’s Boards of Directors. Based on all outstanding shares and including all net financial liabilities, the enterprise value would be approximately US$62 million. Verenium is based in San Diego, California, and generated sales of US$57 million in 2012. The acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.
Verenium Corporation is focused on the development and commercialization of high-performance enzymes for a number of applications, including biofuels production. According to a BASF press release, the company believes that combining “Verenium’s scientific and technological excellence with BASF’s enzyme activities and its global access into all relevant markets will strengthen BASF’s footprint in the strategic enzyme growth market.”
Pictured left to right: Abe Hughes, New Holland; Wesley Clark and Tom Buis, Growth Energy
At the 2013 Farm Progress Show, representatives from Growth Energy were pleased to be part of the New Holland Club Blue event for dealers and customers.
“New Holland is a fantastic company, they produce top notch equipment, but they also are willing to step up for rural America,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis. “What we’ve seen over the last few years is New Holland take the lead in promoting biofuels.”
Growth Energy co-chairman retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark praised New Holland’s support for national security. “New Holland is the first, most visionary and innovative company (that) saw what this ethanol movement means for America, for national security and for American prosperity,” said Clark, who adds that company vice president Abe Hughes, who serves on the Growth Energy board, has been a real leader in helping reach out to the American farmer.Interview with Wesley Clark, Growth Energy
According to a story in an Italian Catholic publication, the Pope’s new/old car is able to run on biofuels.
The National Catholic Reporter reports that Italy’s Famiglia Cristiana interviewed the priest who gave Pope Francis the 1984 Renault 4L as his personal vehicle.
“Knowing Francis’ environmental activism, (Fr. Renzo) Zocca proudly told Famiglia Cristiana that the Renault can run on biofuel,” NCR reports. Pope Francis had the same type of vehicle in his native Argentina.
The 69-year-old priest presented the Pope with the car last Saturday.
USDA announced Thursday that the agency is making nearly $15.5 million in payments to support the production of advanced biofuel.
At the National Advanced Biofuels Conference in Omaha, USDA Rural Development Acting Under Secretary Doug O’Brien said 188 producers will received payments through the Advanced Biofuel Payment Program.
“Producing advanced biofuels is a major component of the drive to take control of America’s energy future by developing domestic, renewable energy sources,” O’Brien said. “These payments represent the Obama Administration’s commitment to support an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy.”
The funding is being provided through USDA’s Advanced Biofuel Payment Program, which was established in the 2008 Farm Bill. Under this program, payments are made to eligible producers based on the amount of advanced biofuels produced from renewable biomass, other than corn kernel starch. Examples of eligible feedstocks include but are not limited to: crop residue; animal, food and yard waste; vegetable oil; and animal fat.
Corn production is forecast at 13.8 billion bushels, up less than 1 percent from the August forecast and up 28 percent from 2012. If realized, this will be a new record production for the United States. Based on conditions as of September 1, yields are expected to average 155.3 bushels per acre, up 0.9 bushels from the August forecast and 31.9 bushels above the 2012 average. If realized, this will be the highest average yield since 2009.
“The ear count numbers are a lot higher than what we were looking at just a month ago,” said USDA Economist Joe Glauber. “We’re expecting prices to fall, for ending stocks to recover a lot from where they were.” USDA is now predicting an average price for 2013 of $4.80 per bushel, about $2 less than year.
“It is a huge improvement over last year when we produced less than 11 billion bushels,” said Geoff Cooper with the Renewable Fuels Association who said lower prices will help increase ethanol production next year. “As this new crop comes in and corn prices come down, it’s very likely we could see close to 14 billion gallons in production next year,” compared to just over 13 billion expected this year.
Brian Jennings of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) noted that a record corn crop on the heels of the worst drought in 50 years “is further proof the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is working and Congress should not repeal or reduce it.”
The corn harvest is just beginning in some areas this week but should be getting into full swing in the next few weeks as the crop hits maturity.
This edition of “The Ethanol Report” features an interview from Farm Progress Show with Renewable Fuels Association Vice President of Research and Development Geoff Cooper on several timely topics, including corn and ethanol production this year, cellulosic ethanol, the importance of the RFS, and sales of E15 ramping up again as summer volatility requirements end.
Cooper talks about how despite a slow maturing crop and adverse weather conditions, USDA is still calling for a record corn crop of 13.8 billion bushels. He also discusses how retail sales of E15 will be going up again next week after the summer volatility requirements end on September 15.Ethanol Report with RFA's Geoff Cooper
“We are the 60 hard working employees of an independently owned and operated corn bio-refinery in Rochelle, Illinois,” they wrote, asking to correct misinformation about the RFS that was presented during a House Energy hearing in July. “The RFS is not a mistake and is in no way ‘unworkable.’”
The letter points out that “there is no ‘blend wall’ problem,” that E15 is safe for 2001 and newer vehicles, there is no food versus fuel problem, and that “EPA already has adequate regulatory flexibility” to adjust volumes of biofuel production requirements under the RFS.
“In fact, not only is the RFS workable and in no need of legislative changes, it actually should be recognized for having accomplished precisely what it was intended to do,” they add, asking their representatives to “do the right thing” and support the law as written.
Read the letter here.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) attended a press conference for the National Farmers Union in Washington on Monday to stress support for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
“We’ve learned a lot about biofuels, we’ve done so much better in producing biofuels for things other than crops that we eat and that’s important,” said Senator Reid. “I’m happy about how important our biofuels industry is.”
Senator Stabenow, pictured here with NFU president Roger Johnson, spoke on behalf of both passage of a new farm bill with an energy title and keeping the RFS in place.
“I am a huge proponent of the Renewable Fuel Standard, we need to continue to invest in research and development and energy efficiency,” Stabenow said. “It’s about getting us on to homegrown energy and off of foreign oil and it’s about jobs.”
Soybeans are the number one crop in Argentina with 50 million tons produced annually and production of biodiesel was 2.8 billion liters last year with exports totaling 1.77 billion. Argentina has been able to become very competitive in the export market for biodiesel and other soybean products since the country’s soybean growing regions and crushers are located close to port facilities, they have a highly developed crushing industry and a relatively small domestic market.
Argentine ethanol production is much smaller, but on the rise. “I would say that Argentina is moving forward with corn-based bioethanol, but we are betting on sugarcane bioethanol,” Argentina’s Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture Lorenzo Basso said in an address to the IFAJ Congress.
Ethanol production is forecast to grow to 400 million liters this year and 600 million in 2014 with five new refineries using corn instead of sugarcane coming on line. All of the country’s ethanol production is for domestic use with a 5% mandate for fuel. Argentina is not big in either corn or sugarcane production, so Basso says they are looking ahead to using biomass for bioethanol production. “Biomass is in everybody’s agenda,” he said. “Argentina has a great potential to use biomass from forestry, as well as residues and wastes.”
Rocker Neil Young showed he has a “heart of gold” for ethanol during a press event in Washington D.C. Monday with the National Farmers Union.
“I love ethanol. I love how it smells, I love the way it makes my car go, everything about it is great, it’s clean,” said Young. “It’s a beautiful fuel.”
But, Young told an audience of 300 farmers and numerous media outlets, America does not have freedom of choice when it comes to its fuel. “There’s a monopoly in existence,” he said. “Every time you get off the road, you enter a monopoly zone – it’s called Big Oil. There’s no reason why every fuel stop that has more than four fuel pumps cannot have an E85 pump…it gives Americans the freedom to choose the fuel they use.”
Young, who recently traveled cross country in a vehicle powered by cellulosic ethanol and electricity, says he is not being paid to support biofuels. “We have a very big problem, CO2 is going to be a huge issue in the next couple of years,” he said. “Ethanol and other biofuels, cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel, are the answer to this problem.”
The Grammy-winning recording artist believes the misinformation campaign against ethanol is fueled by the oil industry. “And the only thing that’s green about their product is the money that goes into campaigns,” he said to strong applause from the crowd.
Young also encouraged those who support alternative fuels to contact their lawmakers and urge them to maintain the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
Listen to some of Young’s comments here and watch the cell phone video sent by NFU staffer Melisa Augusto below: Neil Young for Ethanol
AgriTalk and Agri-Pulse will be hosting the debate via broadcast and the web on September 12 starting at 11:00 am Eastern time live from the Longworth Building, Room 1300. Participants will be RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen and NCBA Vice President Government Affairs Colin Woodall.
“The Renewable Fuel Standard is decreasing our dependence on foreign oil, creating jobs, and revitalizing rural communities. I am all geared up to explain the facts and debunk the negative attacks,” Dinneen says. “It is an excellent time for this debate. USDA is expecting a robust corn crop and just last month USDA issued a report showing that food prices are rising at a slower rate than expected.”
“We appreciate the opportunity to discuss the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). America’s cattlemen and women are not opposed to renewable fuels; it’s the arbitrary mandate of their use that is at issue,” says Woodall. “This mandates places cattle feeders and the entire cattle sector on an un-level playing field for the finite amount of corn produced.”
Questions from AgriTalk and Agri-Pulse listeners and readers will be included in the debate led by Mike Adams and Sara Wyant. If you have questions on this topic, please submit them to Host@AgriTalk.com or to Sara@Agri-Pulse.com no later than Wednesday, September 11. The Agri-Pulse team will be live tweeting from the event @AgriPulse. Look for the hashtag #RFSdebate.
During a stop at the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Illinois last week, Governor Pat Quinn was asked about his support of ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard.
“I drive a car that believes in renewable fuels and I think it’s important for the governor to get the word out that we have to not be dependent on foreign potentates for our oil,” Quinn told reporters. “We have lots of opportunity in our own backyard to grow our own fuel.”
The governor would like to see more E15 fueling cars on the road. “We’d like to move it up to E15, that will help our Illinois farmers and help reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” said Quinn.