Economist Still Opposes RFS Despite Livestock Recovery

bivi-nc-meyerDespite the fact that livestock margins have made a dramatic recovery in the past few years as availability of feed has increased and prices have decreased, a leading livestock economist still opposes the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“We’ve thrown billions of dollars at this industry already and it ought to have to stand on its own,” said Steve Meyer, Paragon Economics, during an interview last week at an event for pork producers. “It has a place in the fuel business as an oxygenate and as an octane enhancer, it’s not going away from there.”

Meyer, who has always been an outspoken critic of U.S. energy policy, says his beef with the RFS is that it caused ethanol production to increase too much too quickly. “The trend yield on corn is up about two bushels per year. If you had grown the ethanol business at a rate equivalent to that, I wouldn’t have been able to gripe too much about it,” he said. “But it was far faster than that …. and the economic impact of that was very negative for (livestock) producers.”

However, the tide has turned dramatically to the point where demand and prices for livestock and poultry are riding high and there is almost record high feed availability with manageable prices. “We’re not going back to $2 corn and $180 bean meal but we’re at the lowest levels on costs in five years,” said Meyer. “We’re not increasing corn usage for ethanol every year like we were, it’s pretty much flat. It’ll grow a little bit but not much and we can probably keep up with that with trend yield growth on corn.”

Despite that, Meyer thinks the RFS needs to go away. “I don’t hate ethanol,” he says he tells corn producers. “I just don’t like subsidized, mandated ethanol when I’m the alternative user of the input.”

Interview with Steve Meyer, Paragon Economics

ACA Bio Fuel Ethanol Plant in Argentina Goes Online

The ACA Bio Cooperative Limitada (ACA Bio) dry-mill corn ethanol plant has been commissioned in Argentina. The ethanol plant is located near Villa Maria in the central province of Cordoba, Argentina. During the start-up phase, the plant met or exceeded all performance guarantees according to ICM, who designed the plant. The plant will produce both ethanol and animal feed (dried distillers grains/DDGs).

ICMlogo1Santiago Acquaroli, ACA Bio plant manager, said, “ICM fulfilled all of our expectations. They provided the engineering documents and the process equipment on time and their technical group always helped our people to complete the erection properly. During the start -up and training period, we felt very well supported. Looking back over the past two years, we can only say thank you to ICM for your help and friendship.”

The construction of the plant and equipment installation was completed in February, 2014. ICM, Inc. supplied the process equipment and components for the ethanol plant. ICM also provided on-site representation throughout the build and installation process, as well as guided ACA Bio through the startup, commissioning and training processes.

“We are thrilled to see the successful start-up and the completion of our first project in Argentina. We look forward to further developing our partnership and collaboration with ACA Bio by providing our expertise, services and process technologies to help advance their success and contribution to the advancement of the local renewable energy industry,” said Dave VanderGriend, CEO of ICM, Inc.

Julian Echazarreta, ACA deputy general manager, added, “If any company comes to Argentina trying to be successful in this type of project, it must have the spirit of full collaboration with their customer like ICM had. Many times ICM went further than the scope required and we appreciate it a lot. Since the beginning we realize that we have in ICM a dependable partner and for this reason we will continue doing business with them.”

USDA Predicts Record Corn Crop

U.S. farmers are expected to produce more corn than last year, according to the latest USDA report out today.

The August Crop Production report finds that good growing conditions are expected to help growers bring in a record-high crop at 14.0 billion bushels of corn, up 1 percent from 2013 which was also a record at the time. Yields are expected to average 167.4 bushels per acre, which would be the highest yield ever for the United States. Objective yield data indicate the greatest number of ears on record for the ten largest corn producing states.

NCGA-LogoDue to the increased production, the average farm price was lowered a dime from its July estimate, to a range of $3.55 to $4.25 per bushel, which National Corn Growers Association President Martin Barbre says makes it important to keep demand moving forward. “Now is not the time for our federal policymakers to be cutting into the ethanol standard, imposing undue regulations or going slow on trade agreements,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre. “Our farmers are doing their part, working hard and smart on their farms to bring in a good crop. It’s time Washington removed obstacles and cleared a path so we can sell America’s biggest and most versatile crop at a good and fair price.”

growth-energy-logoThe new World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate projects ending corn stocks to be 1.808 billion bushels, up 7 million bushels from July and the highest level of carryover stocks since 2005. “It is clear from this report that the food versus fuel debate over the U.S. renewable fuel policy can be put to bed,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis. “It is time to stop attacking a homegrown American industry that is creating jobs, improving our environment and mitigating climate change, all while decreasing out dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels. It is time that the facts, not rhetoric drive the debate and today’s WASDE report should finally end these ridiculous claims. This report makes clear that the American farmer can fuel America and feed the world.”

Increasing Ethanol Plant Throughput

ace14-enogen-lopezSyngenta’s Enogen corn trait technology is the first genetically modified output trait in corn specifically for the ethanol industry and in the past two years since it has been released the industry has seen increasing adoption.

“We’re a new product that’s been adopted by 6-8 plants already,” said Paul Lopez with Syngenta who gave a break out session at the American Coalition for Ethanol conference on how Enogen is helping plants increase throughput. Giving the presentation with him was Tory Kort with Chief Ethanol Fuels in Nebraska, which uses Enogen corn, who shared the results they have seen. “Our enzyme is pretty unique in terms of how it works … it really reduces starches down, making more sugars available, increasing the plant’s efficiencies, so increasing yield and increasing throughput,” added Lopez.

The first plant to adopt Enogen was Quad County Corn Processors, which produced the first gallons of cellulosic ethanol just last month. “They’ve been using our product for two years now,” said Lopez. “This is a win-win. The ethanol plant wins, the local grower wins, the local community wins.”Interview with Paul Lopez, Syngenta Enogen

27th Annual Ethanol Conference photo album

American Ethanol Driver Picks Up Trophy at Pocono

dillon1Ethanol-powered engines and sponsorship helped a young NASCAR driver to a recent win and could propel him to rookie of the year honor’s in NASCAR’s top division. According to the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), American Ethanol spokesman Austin Dillon picked up a trophy at Pocono in the Camping World Truck Series this past weekend and has himself racing for a slot in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Championship.

The feat accomplished three things: it reminded people how the rising race star got to be the truck champion in 2010; the win in a Chevy truck ended Toyota’s 12-race winning streak in the series; and it showcased American Ethanol, which was displayed on the side of his truck. Dillon scored his sixth career Truck Series win by surviving a green-white-checkered finish.

Ethanol supporters behind American Ethanol hitched a ride with Dillon three years ago as we he was just emerging as a household name in the sport. The move has proven to be a good one, with Dillon moving through the ranks of NASCAR’s finest, first winning the truck series in 2010, capturing the intermediate Nationwide title last year, and now vying for Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year honors.

Some experts say this year’s competition has been the best in a decade, as Dillon and fellow rookie Kyle Larson have been battling for one of the 16 spots in the race for the chase where the Sprint Cup Champion will be determined.

Ethanol Plant Innovators

Four ethanol producers who are innovating plants through new process and product technology took the podium at the American Coalition for Ethanol conference this week to talk about what they are doing.

ace14-ronFirst up was ACE president Ron Alverson of Dakota Ethanol who talked about the importance of carbon, particularly the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) and how it impacts ethanol production. Alverson is a corn farmer in South Dakota and he discussed how carbon intensity ratings for corn ethanol are improving and will continue to improve down the road. Ron Alverson, Dakota Ethanol

ace14-baker-adkinsRay Baker, general manager of Adkins Energy in northwest Illinois, who talked about the new biodiesel plant they are building to co-locate with their 50 million gallon ethanol plant and use corn oil as a feedstock. “Having corn oil as your main feedstock gives you a competitive advantage,” he said.
Ray Baker, Adkins Energy

ace14-erhart-prairieMike Erhart, CEO of Prairie Horizon Agri Energy in Kansas, says he runs a biorefinery, not an ethanol plant. “I think ethanol plant is antiquated,” he said. “It’s now time that we become a biorefinery and start touting that.” Erhart also talked about why his plant is producing renewable diesel. Mike Erhart, Prairie Horizon Agri Energy

ace14-delayneDelayne Johnson, Quad County Corn Processors, has the distinction of producing the very first gallons of cellulosic ethanol, just about a month ago. He talked about his plant being the first to use Syngenta Enogen corn and efficiencies they have implemented in the production process.
Delayne Johnson, Quad County Corn Processors

27th Annual Ethanol Conference photo album

Increasing Ethanol Yield

cutc-14-novozymesOne way enzyme technology can help ethanol plants is by yielding more ethanol per bushel of corn.

At the recent Corn Utilization and Technology Conference, Nathan Kreel with Novozymes talked about Olexa, a unique enzyme designed for oil recovery. “We developed it mainly to enhance corn oil extraction for the customer, but we are seeing there are a lot of other benefits,” he said. That includes an increase in ethanol yield, better yeast health, and more efficient fermentation.

“The most important thing is that we see back end process improvements with an average of 13% oil increase,” Kreel said. “It’s a simple drop-in product that is added right to the fermentation and you can see improvements right when it’s used.”

Learn more in this interview: Interview with Nathan Kreel, Novozymes

2014 CUTC Photo Album

Oxygenate from Ethanol and Corn

xfxF Technologies Inc. is an advanced biofuel company that has developed a chemical process to convert corn or biomass plus alcohol (especially ethanol or methanol) into an oxygenate that can be blended with gasoline and diesel.

cutc-14-rob-randle“It’s a completely chemical process – no enzymes, no bacteria, no fermentation,” said Bob Randle of xF Technologies, who spoke at the recent Corn Utilization and Technology Conference. The end products are furoates – from either ethanol, methanol or butanol – that can then be used as oxygenates for fuel transportation to improve mileage, reduce emissions, increase lubricity, and more.

Randle says the technology offers co-location and add-on opportunities for ethanol and corn wet milling plants. “Because our primary feedstocks are corn and ethanol, or biomass and ethanol,” he said. “We can also be co-located with a cellulosic ethanol plant as well.”

Learn more in this interview: Interview with Bob Randle, xF Technologies

2014 CUTC Photo Album

DF Cast: Syngenta Helps Ethanol Infrastructure Efforts

A company that is getting more ethanol out of corn is trying to get more infrastructure for higher blends of ethanol. Recently, Syngenta announced a new fund to help fuel retailers put in infrastructure to handle higher blends of ethanol from E15 to E85. The announcement was made at a NASCAR event, where fans have been able to witness just how good the higher blends are for engines.

In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we hear from Syngenta’s David Witherspoon and Growth Energy’s Kelly Manning, as they talk about the effort to get more ethanol infrastructure into gas stations and how Americans, especially NASCAR fans, have really come around to the green fuel.

Domestic Fuel Cast - Increasing Ethanol Blends

You can also subscribe to the DomesticFuel Cast here.

EPA Hears Corn Grower Concerns About RFS

Members of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) meeting in Washington DC were able to share their concerns about the delayed rule on 2014 volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard with EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe.

epa-ncga“The number needs to be out, it’s really ridiculous,” said NCGA president Martin Barbre, pictured here on the right with Perciasepe. “He said ‘we’re behind time frame’ and we had some delegates stand up and say ‘you’re not behind time frame, you’re way late.’” The final rule was expected by the end of June but EPA officials say it is being delayed because of the massive volume of comments that need to be studied in order to make a decision.

Barbre says while they appreciate the fact that EPA is taking the time to make sure they make the right decision, delaying it until almost the end of the year causes problems in the market. “Sort of what has created this issue with RINS and that run up in the RINS price is the lateness of the oil companies getting the numbers,” said Barbre. “They’re supposed to have these number in the spring, they get them in the fall, and by the end of the year they have got to have met their obligations. So it puts them in somewhat of a bind.”

“We’re not usually on the side of defending the oil companies, but in this case they just need to get the numbers faster so they can get themselves where they need to be,” Barbre added.

Listen to Barbre’s comments here: Interview with NCGA president Martin Barbre

Mudsummer Classic Features American Ethanol

dillon-ethanolAmerican Ethanol will be in the spotlight today as driver Austin Dillon will be defending his crown at Eldora Speedway for NASCAR’s Mudsummer Classic World Truck series race in Ohio.

Last year, Dillon won the historic race driving his American Ethanol branded truck, his first truck race since winning NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series championship in 2011.

“Eldora is always an exciting race for NASCAR fans, but it is an exciting opportunity for corn farmers too,” said National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) NASCAR Advisory Committee Chair Jon Holzfaster. “With American Ethanol spokesman Austin Dillon firmly in the spotlight, Eldora provides a great platform to get our message about the environmental and economic benefits ethanol offers all Americans to a broader audience. The buzz continues to grow. Ethanol helps clean our air, improve our economic independence and benefits American consumers and farmers alike.”

American Ethanol is a partnership of Growth Energy and the National Corn Growers Association.

Nebraska Corn Farmers, Aventine In Sugar Fight

According to a Reuters article, the corn-based ethanol industry in Nebraska is fighting an ethanol sugar-based ethanol plant over its feedstock. The Aventine Renewable Energy Holdings plant re-opened its Aurora, Nebraska ethanol plant back in May 2014. However, the plant, located in corn country, is reportedly using sugar from sugar beets to produce ethanol.

The United States Agricultural Department (USDA) has as program where ethanol plants can purchase cheap beet sugar for use in producing biofuels or biochemicals and Aventine is producing ethanol from this sugar source. Aventine’ use of sugar is the first large-scale production of sugar alcohol in Nebraska since the Prohibition.

sugar beetHowever, local corn farmers have sued Aventine claiming their use of sugar violates an agreement to use their grain exclusively as a feedstock for ethanol production. Aventine denies any wrongdoing, saying it has abided by its contract.

George Hohwieler, president and chief executive of the Aurora Cooperative Elevator Co., was quoted in the article as saying, “Hamilton County, Nebraska, by any measure is one of the most productive corn-producing counties in the world,” he said. “The message being sent to the marketplace is that they’re making ethanol out of sugar.”

Aventine chief executive Mark Beemer was quoted as saying the farmers’ coop was being short sighted in suing the company. “We’ve been very blunt. This is just a very short-term pathway to get the plant open and then convert back to corn ethanol,” he said.

There has been a long-running dispute between Aventine and the Nebraska farmers’ coop. In February, when Aventine received delivery via rail of the sugar, the coop filed suit claiming they were not allowed to use the rail line to receive any feedstock other than corn. The coop also filed suit in 2012 when the plant did not produce its nameplate capacity of 110 million gallons of ethanol per year, costing them $1.7 million.

As the lawsuits and harsh words continue to fly, Aventine argues that using sugar allowed them to re-open the plant, that had been idled for nearly 5 years and bringing jobs back to the area. At this point, Aventine says they have begun bidding to buy corn as an ethanol feedstock but because of the lawsuits, they are not negotiating to buy corn from the Aurora Cooperating Elevator.

As the lawsuits continue, it can only be said in a fight between corn and sugar, no one wins.

Twin Cedars FFA Raises Money for Ethanol Infrastructure

Josh Lopez is a sophomore at Twin Cedars high school (Bussey, Iowa) and he is already an ethanol advocate. During the American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen, Josh who is a member of FFA, along with several other FFA members from his high school, walked around Iowa Speedway talking to NASCAR fans about the benefits of ethanol. But they didn’t stop there.

Josh LopezJosh and his team also raised money for ethanol infrastructure and Syngenta matched the funds raised – dollar-for-dollar- and donated the money plus the $1 per acre funds to Growth Energy. The $1 per acre program is one that donates $1 dollar per acre of Engoen corn grown to the renewable fuels industry. In total, more than $108K was donated this year.

I asked Josh why he came out to the races to talk about ethanol. “I love racing and our school has a strong agricultural program,” so he said it was a good fit. I also asked him what he thought about ethanol and he said his dad works for Syngenta so he grew up knowing that ethanol is better for the environment, a lot cheaper and reduces America’s need for foreign oil.

Josh said the most common question he is asked is what is ethanol? He noted that after talking with most consumers, and mentioning the NASCAR drivers are racing on the same E15 fuel that consumers can use, most of them become excited about ethanol.

Listen to my interview with Josh Lopez here: Josh Lopez interview

Visit the 2014 American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen photo album.


Corn Growers Keep Ethanol in Focus

Ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) were big topics this week as members of the National Corn Growers Association met in Washington DC.

ncga-ethanolMichigan farmer Jeff Sandborn, chair of the Ethanol Committee, said they spent the week talking with administration officials and members of Congress after being updated on the issues. “Right now, Congress faces rapidly evolving issues crucial to our members. The information and understanding coming out of these meetings will help each of our delegations make the strongest case possible for farmers.”

During the Ethanol Committee meeting, staff from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality provided an update on the regulatory issues facing the ethanol industry. On Thursday, the entire NCGA delegation heard from EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe about the status of the pending 2014 volume obligation rule under the RFS.

“We greatly appreciate the deputy administrator’s willingness to participate in an open, well-considered conversation,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre of Illinois. While Perciasepe mainly dealt with the proposed Waters of the United States rule, he also fielded questions from growers pertaining to both the reduction in volume, and the continued delays of final RFS rule.

QCCP-Syngenta Collaboration Produces Cellulosic Ethanol

Syngenta and Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP) are collaborating to produce cellulosic ethanol from corn kernels as well as to license the technology to other ethanol plants. The first-of-its-kind technology is known as Adding Cellulosic Ethanol and was developed by QCCP, who expects to produce one million gallons of cellulosic ethanol in 2014 and two million gallons in 2015.

This breakthrough was made possible through the integration of Adding Cellulosic Ethanol technology at QCCP, a 35 million gallon per year capacity ethanol production facility. The introduction of the technology Delayne Johnson Quad County Corn Processors will enable QCCP to increase ethanol yield per bushel by six percent, produce an additional two million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year and realize a number of other important benefits including increased production of corn oil and distillers grains (DDGs).

Delayne Johnson, CEO of QCCP discussed the technology during a press conference held at the Iowa Speedway last Friday. The event was part of the American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen sponsorship. The NASCAR Camping Truck World Series races on E15.

“Adding Cellulosic Ethanol technology will help us to increase the protein content of dried distillers grains (DDGs) by 40 percent, improve corn oil extraction by 200 percent and realize more ethanol out of the same kernel of corn,” said Johnson. “The commercialization of this technology represents a major advance in the production of cellulosic ethanol. For example, Adding Cellulosic Ethanol technology could produce one billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol by converting the corn kernel cellulose from corn currently being processed in existing dry grind ethanol plants. And, once hemicellulosic yeast is FDA-approved, Adding Cellulosic Ethanol will be capable of producing an additional one billion gallons – all from corn already being processed.”

Johnson said tests have also shown that Adding Cellulosic Ethanol technology, in conjunction with Enogen® trait technology, will deliver significant benefits to ethanol plants beyond what can be achieved through either technology alone.

“The combination of Adding Cellulosic Ethanol and Enogen corn is expected to generate significant synergies when used together in dry grind ethanol plants,” Johnson added. “It will produce advanced and cellulosic ethanol while decreasing natural gas usage, increasing ethanol throughput and reducing an ethanol plant’s carbon footprint. These advantages, combined with higher protein DDGs and increased corn oil production, make the technology package appealing for ethanol plants looking to improve their bottom line.”

Jack Bernens SyngentaCellulosic Ethanol Technologies is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Quad County Corn Processors. Earlier this year, Syngenta announced an agreement with Cellulosic Ethanol Technologies to license Adding Cellulosic Ethanol technology to ethanol production facilities.

“Ethanol is helping America reduce its dependence on foreign oil, lowering prices at the pump, improving the environment with lower emissions, and growing the economy with jobs that can’t be outsourced,” said Jack Bernens, head of marketing and stakeholder relations for Enogen Trait Technology at Syngenta. “The combination of Adding Cellulosic Ethanol technology and Enogen could represent the next leap forward for ethanol production.”

Listen to my interview with Delayne Johnson here: Delayne Johnson interview

Visit the 2014 American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen photo album.