Prospective Plantings Down, But Corn Stocks High

ncga-logo-newThis year’s corn plantings are expected to be down this year, but growers say there will be plenty of stockpiles for all needs, including ethanol. The latest U.S. Department of Agriculture figures show that American farmers expect to plant 3.7 million fewer acres of corn this year, down four percent from 2013. But the National Corn Growers Association says, don’t worry, there are plenty of stocks going into the year, and it would still be the fifth-largest U.S. corn acreage planted.

“In 2013, U.S. farmers produced a record crop abundant enough to meet all needs and provide an ample carry over into 2014,” National Corn Growers Association President Martin Barbre said. “While it is still early in the season and many factors may change the reality on the ground as planting progresses, the public can rest assured that bountiful stockpiles and adequate plantings will ensure our corn security for the year to come.”

NCGA says the plantings will yield 13.37 billion bushels, and corn stocks stand at more than 7 billion bushels, up 30 percent from the same time last year.

Ethanol Advocate Honored by Corn Growers

Jere White (center) with his wife Linda and son Robert, honored by NCGA CEO Rick Tolman and president Martin Barbre

Jere White (center) with his wife Linda and son Robert, honored by NCGA CEO Rick Tolman and president Martin Barbre

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) celebrated the long and productive career of an ethanol advocate and industry leader during the recent Commodity Classic.

Jere White is retiring from the Kansas Corn Growers after leading that organization for a quarter of a century and was presented with the Meritorious Service Award from NCGA. He has been a strong supporter of the ethanol industry during that time and his son Robert is Director of Market Development for the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

An avid motorcyclist, White had a serious accident in September 2012, and while he has made a remarkable recovery from critical injuries, he recently decided it was time to pass the reins of the association on to someone else.

classic14-greg-jereThe new Kansas Corn CEO, pictured here with Jere, is Greg Krissek – also a long-time ethanol advocate and industry leader. In his career, Greg has served as Assistant Secretary at the Kansas Department of Agriculture; Director of Operations at Kansas Corn and Kansas Grain Sorghum; Director of Government Affairs for ICM Inc. and, most recently was a manager at Kennedy and Coe, LLC. He has also served on many ethanol and agricultural association boards and on seven ethanol plant boards of directors.

2014 Commodity Classic Photos

American Ethanol Expands Program

Ethanol Association Growth Energy is expanding their partnership of Richard Childress Racing and Austin Dillion for the 2014 NASCAR season as part of their American Ethanol program. Beginning with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway on March 2, Dillon will race the No. 3 American Ethanol Chevrolet SS in select races during the 2014 season.

American Ethanol is extremely pleased to once again partner with Austin Dillon, Richard Childress and the entire RCR team to help promote a sustainable homegrown American fuel that is better for our environment, reduces our dependence on foreign oil and creates Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 1.14.48 PMjobs right here in the U.S., while revitalizing rural economies across America and saving consumers at the pump,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy.

American Ethanol, launched by Growth Energy and the National Corn Growers Association along with the support of other partners, is a program that seeks to expand consumer awareness of the benefits of ethanol and E15. Since the program launch for the 2011 season, NASCAR drivers have run more than 5 million miles on renewable Sunoco Green E15.

“We want to show the people coast-to-coast there is a great alternative to imported oil and our association with NASCAR and RCR is doing that extremely well,” said Jon Holzfaster, a Paxton, NE farmer and chairman of the National Corn Growers Association’s NASCAR Advisory Committee. “Ethanol is also responsible for bringing a rural renaissance from Main Street to the family farm.”

American Ethanol will also serve as a major associate sponsor for Dillon’s No. 3 Chevrolet for the full 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season joining Dow, Cheerios, Realtree Outdoors, Bass Pro Shops and the University of Northwestern Ohio.

“Homegrown biofuels like American Ethanol have stepped up to help our nation’s economy,” said Dillon. “NASCAR drivers have run more than 5 million competitive miles on Sunoco Green E15 and I know we will reach even more milestones together. I am proud to wear the American Ethanol colors in NASCAR and I hope I can bring them to Victory Lane in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2014.”

Corn Growers Vow to Protect the RFS

nec14-insidersNow that the farm bill is a done deal, National Corn Growers Association Public Policy Vice President Jon Doggett says his organization has three main priorities for this year in Washington – protect the RFS, and protect the RFS, and protect the RFS.

That may seem redundant, but that’s just how important the Renewable Fuel Standard is for corn growers.

Doggett sat on the annual Washington Insiders panel at the National Ethanol Conference this week with Aaron Whitesel of DuPont, Kris Kiser with the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, and Shane Karr from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, and Bob Greco of the American Petroleum Institute. Listen to the whole conversation between them, moderated by Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen: NEC Washington Insiders Panel

nec14-doggettOne of the questions directed to the panel was if they thought Congress would take any action on the RFS this year, and most said no but API’s Greco said they would continue to push for a permanent fix to the RFS, and NCGA’s Doggett warned the ethanol industry to be vigilant. “These folks are spending millions and millions of dollars to take away the RFS, the thing that has built your industry,” said Doggett. “Frankly I think everybody in this room ought to embrace a little paranoia on this one.”

During an interview with Domestic Fuel, Doggett was asked if the industry could continue to grow without the RFS. “I really don’t want to find out if that’s true or not … I don’t want to take that risk,” he said. Interview with Jon Doggett, NCGA

2014 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

NEC Coverage sponsored by Patriot Renewable Fuels LLC

Biofuel Groups React to SOTU

Corn farmers and biofuels producers are questioning President Obama’s commitment to an “all of the above” energy strategy mentioned in the State of the Union address, considering the administration’s proposal to cut the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) this year. The address Tuesday evening came just hours before the comment period on the EPA proposal ended.

sotu-2014“It was great to hear President Obama talk about the importance of an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy policy,” commented National Corn Growers President Martin Barbre. “And you can’t have such a policy without biofuels. So, we call on his Administration to back away from its irresponsible proposal to reduce the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

Fuels America released a statement echoing a similar sentiment, adding that they hope EPA will listen to those who will be impacted by changes in the RFS. “We hope the agency considers the thousands of comments from farm families, small business owners, labor groups and environmental advocates. These are the real people who will lose their livelihoods and their faith in this Administration’s commitment to a clean energy future if the EPA proceeds down its current path.”

The president mentioned agriculture in the opening minute of his speech, with an image of a farmer in a corn field as an example of the “citizens, who make the state of our union strong.”

President Obama did make note of progress made in solar energy during his address and called for an end to tax breaks for the oil industry. “Every four minutes, another American home or business goes solar,” said the president. “Let’s continue that progress with a smarter tax policy that stops giving $4 billion a year to fossil fuel industries that don’t need it, so that we can invest more in fuels of the future that do.”

Big Turnout Expected for EPA RFS Hearing

A huge turnout is expected Thursday at a public hearing on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Renewable Fuel Standard volume obligations for 2014. Literally busloads of stakeholders, both opposed to and in favor of cutting the requirements, are attending the hearing at the Hyatt in Crystal City, Virginia.

terrybIowa Governor Terry Branstad will be attending with several Iowa livestock producers, farmers and renewable fuels leaders. Branstad fears the EPA proposal could lead to another farm crisis. “I was governor during the farm crisis of the ‘80s when land values dropped 63 percent,” he said during a conference call on Wednesday. “I know what can happen when you have an agriculture depression, and we don’t want to go back and revisit that.”

Also attending the hearing will be corn farmers from a dozen other states in addition to Iowa. “It’s great to see so many people willing to leave their farms at this time of year for an important opportunity to give the EPA a piece of their mind,” said National Corn Growers Association First Vice President Chip Bowling of Maryland.

Advanced biofuels producers will be making the case that they would bear a disproportionate share of the proposed cuts. “They have proposed to cut volume requirements for advanced biofuels by more than 40 percent compared to requirements written into the statute,” said Advanced Biofuels Association President Michael McAdams. “In contrast, EPA has proposed to reduce volume requirements for conventional biofuels by less than 10 percent. We’re left scratching our head wondering why the EPA would deliver such a disproportionate large blow to the category of renewable fuels that reduces greenhouse gases the most.”

Nearly two dozen representatives of the U.S. biodiesel industry are slated to testify at the hearing, including Wayne Presby with White Mountain Biodiesel in New Hampshire, who says the proposal threatens the survival of his company. “We currently employ 20 people and have grown at an annual rate of 300 percent per year for the last two years,” he says. “We were intending to further increase our production this coming year and hire additional workers for a third shift, however, the current proposal by the EPA will halt our growth completely and may result in the closing of our business.”

The hearing is scheduled to begin
at 9:00 am Eastern time and “end when all parties present who wish to speak have had the opportunity to do so.” Domestic Fuel reporter John Davis will be there to provide coverage here.

Farmers Head to Washington in Defense of the RFS

ncga-logo-newFarmers from around the country are heading to Washington, D.C. today in defense of the RFS (Renewable Fuel Standard). Hundreds of biofuel and agricultural supporters are descending on DC in for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) hearing on the 2014 RFS proposed rules that across the board lower the renewable fuel volumes for next year.

The National Corn Growers Association says by cutting the amount of corn ethanol required by 10 percent it will affect corn prices and rural economies. Farmers plans to tell EPA their personal stories of what such an action would reap across rural America.

More than 30 corn farmers and their allies from around the country are attending the hearing including growers from 13 states including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

20120717-bowling200x250“It’s great to see so many people willing to leave their farms at this time of year for an important opportunity to give the EPA a piece of their mind,” said NCGA First Vice President Chip Bowling, a Maryland corn grower scheduled to speak at the hearing. “This has already had a negative effect on our farms, and if the EPA gets its way, it could cause serious harm to the rural economy – not to mention cutting the environmental benefits of domestic, renewable ethanol.”

For 2014, the EPA has proposed a 1.4 billion gallon reduction in how much corn ethanol will be required under the RFS, the federal law that requires the blending of domestic, renewable, cleaner-burning corn ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply.  Because of the record crop, growers are already seeing corn prices falling below the cost of production, and due to the planting cycle are having to buy inputs such as fertilizer, seed and fuel at much higher prices, Bowling said.

NCGA is strongly urging all its members to comment directly to the EPA about this issue before the Jan. 28, 2014 deadline. More information about how farmers can do this is available here.

Ethanol-Fueled NASCAR Welcomed Back to St. Louis

gateway1NASCAR racing, fueled by ethanol, is being welcomed back to the St. Louis area. The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) says NASCAR returns to Gateway Motorsports Park with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on June 14, 2014.

National Corn Growers Association President Martin Barbre joined track owner Curtis Francois, NASCAR VP of Racing Operations Jim Cassidy, and American Ethanol spokesman and St. Louis native Kenny Wallace for the announcement.

“We have had great success utilizing the American Ethanol brand to educate the NASCAR Nation about the performance, economic and environmental benefits of corn-based ethanol over the last three years.” Barbre said. “This track sits in the heart of corn country so it will provide us another good opportunity to educate the public.”

Ethanol, Corn Industry Outraged at EPA RFS Proposal

The ethanol and corn industry is outraged over the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed 2014 renewable fuels volumes as part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The renewable fuel category, of which the majority is comprised of corn-based ethanol, is proposed at 15.21 billion gallons.

ncga-logo-new“This recommendation is ill-advised and should be condemned by all consumers because it is damaging to our tenuous economy and short-sighted regarding the nation’s energy future,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre, who said the proposed number would reduce volumes for corn-based ethanol. “Agriculture has been a bright spot in a failing U.S. economy, but current corn prices are below the cost of production. EPA’s ruling would be devastating for family farmers and the entire rural economy.”

The proposed rule caps corn-based (or conventional) ethanol at 13 billion gallons. These proposed volume obligations are a drastic reduction from the mandated RVOs in statute, according to Barbre. This proposed rule cuts 1.4 billion gallons from the conventional ethanol cap that was set at 14.4 billion gallons.

He also noted the EPA proposal will make investments in new biofuels plants very risky, stagnate investment in infrastructure by petroleum marketers and send the wrong signals to automakers who want more direction on where they should be spending millions of targeted investments on research and development.

Brian Jennings, executive vice president for the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) said of the proposed rule, “There is nothing positive that can be said about EPA’s proposal to unnecessarily restrict sales of ethanol-blended ace logofuel in 2014. This proposed rule will increase pump prices, drain billions of dollars from consumer pocketbooks, and transfer billions more to oil company profit statements. EPA’s proposal fundamentally betrays this Administration’s commitment to clean renewable fuels and caves to Big Oil demands to put a ceiling on ethanol use.”

“We are deeply disappointed in EPA and will try to help them come to their senses before the final rule is published, by helping the Administration better grasp the role E15 and E85 can play in meeting the 2014 RFS” continued Jennings. “This proposal likely violates the law, would shut down biofuel facilities, put Americans out of work, and chase investment in advanced biofuel overseas to our competitors.”

Jennings also noted that the proposed rule sets a dangerous precedent by taking the teeth out of the most consequential policy Congress has ever enacted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions of transportation fuel, a sentiment that others in the ethanol industry agree with.

Barbre indicates that the proposal as it stands would also hurt American farmers. Continue reading

Angst Over AP Article Grows

Today was the official release of the Associated Press (AP) article, “The secret, dirty cost of Obama’s green power push,” and the ethanol industry is outraged at the way corn ethanol was portrayed and by how Iowa farmer and retired Methodist pastor Leroy Perkins says his quotes were misrepresented. With the ethanol industry’s outrage gaining momentum, the AP responded by saying “he was certainly aware” of the story’s focus and that “those who were in the interview with him remember it entirely differently.”

Quad County Ethanol Plant

Photo: Joanna Schroeder

“Maybe calling a Methodist pastor a liar is standard defense protocol for DC-based AP reporters, but in southern Iowa that’s an accusation we take very seriously,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “AP should own up to its poor reporting instead of doubling down on their misrepresentations. Just like the AP hit piece on ethanol, once again the AP doesn’t have its facts straight. IRFA contacted the others involved in the AP interviews in Wayne County and they stand behind Leroy. I doubt there is anyone not on AP’s payroll that remembers things their way.”

Also clearly upset by the article is the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) whose members are corn farmers, many who grow and sell their corn crop to local ethanol plants.

“Today’s controversial story on corn ethanol and land use appears to simply be based on a complete misunderstanding of modern agriculture generally and the Conservation Reserve Program specifically, but unfortunately, the problem is much deeper,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre.

“It is discouraging that the Associated Press appears to be following a political agenda which clearly targets our only renewable alternative to imported petroleum. Even the headline is a colorful but inaccurate indictment. – ‘The secret, dirty cost of Obama’s green power push.’ Secret? There are no secrets in how land is used, as their own reporting shows. Acres are tracked, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture guarantees a high level of transparency. No, these watch words ‘secret’ and ‘dirty’ show clearly that the reporters were sensationalizing the issue to a high degree, which is conduct unbecoming a true journalist,” he continued.

“The fact is, farmers are doing a better job every day of meeting the duel challenges of productivity and sustainability. Land use per bushel is down 30 percent and soil loss is down 67 percent since 1980. Thanks to renewable corn ethanol, we’re using 465 million fewer barrels of oil each year. Thanks to corn ethanol, rural economies are improving. And, yes, the air is getting cleaner. We have no regrets about these outcomes,” added Barbre.

Many in the industry point out that “AP’s standards say they ‘abhor inaccuracies, carelessness, bias or distortions’ yet they say the article contains each of these things. In addition, the biofuels industry is calling foul for not having even one corn ethanol producer interviewed for the article, and there are nearly 40 operational ethanol plants in Iowa. Continue reading

NASCAR Drives 5 Million Miles on E15

NASCAR has announced that during the NASCAR Nationwide Series race in Phoenix it surpassed more than five million competition miles across its three national series on Sunoco Green E15, a biofuel blended with 15 percent ethanol, made from American grown corn. The five-million-miles have been accumulated across practice, qualifying and racing laps dating back to 2011 when the biofuel was introduced.

“Fuel is fundamental to our sport and our teams demand performance without compromise,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition. “With more 5 million miles on E15than five million miles of hard competitive driving across our three national series, Sunoco’s Green E15 renewable fuel stands up to rigorous racing conditions while significantly reducing our impact on the environment.”

In 2011 NASCAR entered into a partnership with Sunoco and the American Ethanol industry, launching its long-term biofuels program to reduce emissions of the fuel used across its three national series. The transition to the biofuel has reduced on-track carbon emissions and teams report an increase in horsepower.

“The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) joined the American Ethanol partnership with Growth Energy and NASCAR because we knew ethanol would perform and shine in a very public way. General awareness of ethanol and its benefits is extremely high with the tens of millions of fans who watch racing every week,” said Martin Barbre, NCGA president and Carmi, Ill. farmer. “Ethanol support has always been strong in corn production states, but now the knowledge of ethanol’s economic, environmental and energy security advantages are growing coast to coast.”

Since transitioning to the biofuel blended with 15 percent ethanol, American Ethanol says NASCAR has helped validate the fuel’s qualities and the positive environmental impact of ethanol in front of an audience of millions of NASCAR fans, helping shift attitudes and behaviors around the use of ethanol.

“This five million mile mark is yet another testament to Sunoco Green E15′s value as a fuel and a real validator of our product,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy. “You couldn’t ask for a tougher testing ground and Sunoco Green E15 stands up to the challenge each weekend and that’s good news for everyone who supports renewable fuels.”

American Ethanol Storms Into the Lone Star State

American Ethanol is racing in the Lone Star State this week and team spokesman Austin Dillion is closing in on a championship. Ethanol supporters and NASCAR fans will be heading to Texas to cheer on their driver and interact with fans about ethanol.

NASCAR driver Austin Dillion Photo NASCARDillon is known for his signature cowboy hat, but he wouldn’t mind trading in his hat for a new one at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday. Because what else would they give you as a trophy in Texas except a cowboy hat and a boot trophy? Dillon, who has never finished outside the Top 10 at Texas Motor Speedway in NASCAR Nationwide Series competition, currently leads the series standings by eight points over Sam Hornish Jr. As in other races, he will display the American Ethanol logo on the side of his car.

Corn farmers from Texas, Minnesota and North Dakota will also be on hand to distribute American Ethanol green starter flags throughout the campgrounds; more than 2,500 flags will be distributed over the course of the weekend. This weekend marks the largest activation for the American Ethanol brand in 2013, and the final one for the season.

A fan exhibit is also planned on the midway. The centerpiece for the exhibit will be a mobile biofuels education unit that will allow fans to learn more about how ethanol is made to provide consumer fuel and Sunoco Green E15 for NASCAR. This weekend the American Ethanol exhibit will be adding a new educational piece, a graphic that shows all of the toxic and in some cases carcinogenic, substances in modern gasoline. The visual carries a clear message that consumers need to know; “Some Fuels are Greener Than Others.”

The NASCAR Nationwide Series O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway starts at 3:30 p.m. EDT Saturday, November 2 and will be aired on ESPN2. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway starts at 3 p.m. EDT Sunday, November 3 and will be aired on ESPN.

Corn Crop Enough to Meet RFS

ncga-logo-newThe National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is weighing in on the speculation about what the 2014 volume requirements for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) might be.

NCGA president Martin Barbre, a corn grower from Illinois, says the statute currently calls for corn starch ethanol to account for 14.4 billion gallons, an amount that can easily be provided by the industry.

“Across the country right now, our nation’s corn farmers are harvesting what the USDA and others are estimating to be the largest corn crop ever,” said Barbre. “We’re looking forward to not only meeting all needs for food, feed and fuel, but to ensure ending stocks, or surplus, of nearly 2 billion bushels. Those who want to reduce how much corn ethanol is in the RFS for 2014 need to realize the tremendous productive capacity of the American farmer to meet all needs.”

While this week’s supply and demand report is delayed because of the partial government shutdown, as of last month USDA was estimating increased amounts of corn to be available for feed, ethanol and export uses – and 1.9 billion bushels in ending stocks.

The last USDA estimate of the 2013 corn crop forecast 13.8 billion bushels of corn will be harvested this fall, for a total available corn supply of 14.5 billion bushels – more than 2.5 billion bushels more than the corn available last year.

“The fact is, while we are doing our part to grow the corn needed for the RFS, others have not been doing their part to expand the infrastructure to meet the standard,” Barbre said.

Study Refutes Land Use Change Myth

A recent report released from researchers in the Netherlands shows that current models assessing the impact of crops grown for biofuel production on land use (indirect land use change /ILUC) do not accurately reflect current production and land use realities. Given the impact of these models on bioenergy policy, the paper, “Biomass Research,” makes a strong case for updating the way in which the true benefits of biofuels are assessed. This Corn crop August 2013would help insure policy decisions and made with the understanding and consideration of the ethanol’s environmental benefits.

National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) Ethanol Committee Chair Chad Willis said, “Ethanol advocates have long understood the major impact that relying upon outdated data or inaccurate models can have on our nation’s biofuels policy and, at NCGA we work to correct the information and models. This study provides an academically rigorous examination of the specific areas in which ethanol modeling and data are currently lacking on a large scope.”

Farmers have made amazing strides to increase efficiency and sustainability in the past few decades,” continued Willis, and the models and information used to assess the impact of biofuel production should reflect these gains. American ethanol benefits our environment as well as our economy and our energy security. It only makes sense that our energy policy should take these incredible benefits into account thus maximizing them for the good of all Americans.”

Looking at land use and biomass production balances in 34 major biofuel-producing nations, the report concludes that increases in acreage devoted to biofuel feedstock production were more than offset by productivity gains on acreage devoted to food production between 2000 and 2010. These productivity gains were the result of the use of double cropping practices, yield gains and other increased efficiencies.

Additionally, the study also notes that during the same period, urbanization and other causes were responsible for the loss of much more agricultural land than biofuel feedstock production. Continue reading

RFS Dominates DC Policymakers Conversations

Fuels America launched an educational program in Washington, D.C. this week to highlight the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The program highlights the key benefits of the energy policy and includes messaging that carpets Metro stations most traveled by policymakers and their staff.

783-1“The RFS is important not only for corn farmers but also for our nation as we move toward a more energy secure, environmentally sound future,” said National Corn Growers Association (NGGA) President Pam Johnson, whose organization is a member of Fuels America. “When people understand the incredible alternative ethanol offers, they embrace it as a way to keep out-of-control gas prices in check while cleaning our air and reducing our dependence on foreign oil. Now, whether commuting to work or just heading across town, the precise people who influence our nation’s energy policy will be confronted with the critical importance of preserving the RFS and our nation’s energy future.”

The RFS, says NCGA is founded on three principles: its good for the U.S. economy, it’s good for our nation’s energy security, and it’s good for the environment.