Tag Archives: ethanol

Denver – In a global trade environment challenged by tariffs and tensions, emerging markets for grains and ethanol provided a bright spot for U.S. farmers, agribusinesses and industry officials at the U.S. Grains Council’s 58th Annual Board of Delegates meeting in Denver.

The Council’s Middle East and Africa Director Ramy Taieb and Manager of Global Trade Alvaro Cordero spoke on a panel moderated by the Council’s Senior Director of Global Strategies Kurt Shultz, highlighting the Middle East and North Africa as a 10 million metric ton (394 million bushel) market for U.S. grains in all forms.

They focused on new demand in Saudi Arabia for U.S. sorghum and distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), near-term opportunities developed following years of work by Council staff and members to set the stage with local customers.

“The Middle East and North African is a vast area with a lot of complexity,” Taieb said to the group. “However, from the perspective of the U.S. producer, it’s an important area of the world that encompasses 17 countries importing grains products valued at more than $1.8 billion.”

The Council has a regional office in Tunisia and consultants in Turkey, Pakistan, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, who also covers Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

“Regional imports have been growing over the past five years from 2.5 MMT (98 million bushels) in marketing year 2013/2014 to 8 MMT (315 million bushels) in marketing year 2016/2017. We are expecting to reach 10 MMT (394 million bushels) of grains in all forms to the region this year,” Taieb said. “The U.S. Grains Council has focused on being flexible and responsive to the shifting market opportunities as they arise in the region.”

In addition to other sales in the region, speakers shared that U.S. corn sales to Saudi Arabia totaled $383 million in the 2016/2017 marketing year, a 150 percent growth over the previous marketing year.

Tuesday’s general sessions also featured a presentation on the economic conditions facing the United States and the farm economy by Will Secor, an economist in the knowledge exchange division at CoBank, a national cooperative bank serving industries across rural America. Secor said that despite developing challenges on the global trade stage, the long-term outlook for U.S. grains demand is positive.

Council Chief Economist Mike Dwyer led off the afternoon’s round of speakers, updating the farmers and other delegates in attendance on the industry’s ethanol market development efforts. The U.S. is the world’s largest producer, consumer and exporter of fuel ethanol and is the most cost-competitive ethanol supplier due to large-scale production, industry innovation and access to competitively-priced feedstock.

“No other grain-in-all-forms category comes close as a driver of growing corn demand,” Dwyer told the delegates about ethanol exports. “U.S. exports of grains in all forms could rise to a record 138 MMT by 2022 if we meet our ambitious goals.”

Dwyer was followed by Dan Halstrom, president and CEO of the U.S. Meat Export Federation, and James Sumner, president of the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council, who provided insights from their sectors, both of which are working to grow new overseas demand while defending established markets in a complicated trade environment.

According to a recent USGC and National Corn Growers Association study, grain-in-all-forms exports accounted for $55.5 billion in economic output in 2015, the most recent year with full data available, with more than 262,000 U.S. jobs connected to these sales.

More from the Denver meeting is available on social media, using the hashtag #grains18.

OMAHA  — The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver will hear a Renewable Fuels Standard lawsuit challenging EPA’s issuance of small refinery waivers, after the court ruled on Friday it is the proper venue.

At the end of May, the Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, American Coalition for Ethanol and National Farmers Union, with support of Farmers Union Enterprises, sued EPA on three recent waivers granted, arguing the agency did not publish in the Federal Register what were final agency actions.

In the petition, the groups said they are challenging agency actions made “under unusually clandestine proceedings” to exempt refineries in Wynnewood, Oklahoma; Cheyenne, Wyoming; and Woods Cross, Utah.

On June 13, the 10th Circuit identified what it called a “jurisdictional defect” in the ag and ethanol groups’ petition for review.

Specifically, the owner of two of the refineries, HollyFrontier, argued in a court document the groups’ petition was defective because it did not include EPA copies of the waivers approved. However, the agency still has not made the applications public because it argues they include proprietary business information.

The EPA granted a total of 49 such waivers for 2016 and 2017 renewable volume obligations. The EPA said in its latest RFS volumes proposal that it waived a total of 2.25 billion gallons those years. New EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler has indicated the agency will continue to consider future waiver requests in the same manner.

The Wynnewood refinery is owned by a subsidiary of CVR Energy, and the Cheyenne and Woods Cross refineries are owned by HollyFrontier Corporation. CVR Energy is owned by energy billionaire Carl Icahn. For a time, Icahn served as an adviser to President Donald Trump and recommended the hiring of Scott Pruitt as EPA administrator. Icahn also sought RFS reforms when counseling the president.

Rather than challenge the agency’s authority to grant waivers, the groups said the three refineries named are examples of the agency’s “abuses” of the authority.

EPA has taken heat on how it defines “hardship” when it granted waivers. The ethanol industry and others have maintained the waivers were not designed for oil companies that report billions of dollars in profits.

The companies named in the lawsuit estimated in financial statements the waivers saved them $170 million in compliance costs.

Large companies such as Marathon Petroleum are taking their chances in filing for waivers, largely based on recent agency action to step up the number of waivers granted in the past two years.

The 10th Circuit recently ruled the EPA should have been granting exemptions all along. Congressional budget reporting language attached to appropriations bills during the past three years essentially opened wide the door to any refiner to receive an exemption. That language basically forbids EPA from considering a company’s financial returns when granting so-called hardship waivers.

The RFS only allows refiners that produce 75,000 barrels per day or less to qualify for waivers. Marathon’s smallest refinery produces about 93,000 barrels per day. Other large refiners have filed for waivers.

HollyFrontier and Sinclair Oil have been granted waivers this year. The retroactive waivers result in HF saving about $33.8 million in renewable identification numbers waived from the 2015 renewable volume obligations, according to the company’s quarterly financial report in May to the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission. Details were not available about Sinclair’s savings.

The Renewable Fuels Association and others filed a similar lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

BISMARCK, N.D.  — A company that runs corn ethanol plants in North Dakota is looking into using barley for biofuel and a feed product for commercial fisheries.

The North Dakota Industrial Commission approved a more than $83,000 grant to Midwest AgEnergy Group to research the new markets. The grant came from the Renewable Energy Program, which lawmakers established in 2007 to provide funding for research, development, marketing and education to grow renewable energy, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

“It’s a higher value market than where we’re currently participating at this time” when compared to cattle feed, said Midwest AgEnergy CEO Jeff Zueger. He added that the company is always looking for best and additional uses at its Jamestown and Underwood plants.

The concept for the barley biofuel was developed and pilot tested by Montana Microbial Products in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Zueger said.

Midwest AgEnergy’s project would study the feasibility and conduct initial engineering and design work for scaling production to a commercial level, producing 50 times the 30 tons (27 metric tons) per month made by the Montana company.

“This is an exciting first step in a project that could lead to additional markets for barley while creating new market opportunities for North Dakota in the aquaculture industry,” the commission said in a statement. “Additionally, this would be the first ethanol in North Dakota produced from a feedstock other than corn.”

The first study will take six weeks. The concept would likely see more engineering work and potential construction next year if it proves out in the first phase.

GILTNER, NE – Flex fuel vehicle drivers can save 85 cents per gallon on E85 at Cooperative Producers Inc. in Giltner (23 Railroad St.) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, July 24. Consumers will be limited to 30 gallons and no containers are allowed.

Complimentary hot dogs and soft drinks will be available to customers throughout the promotion. Nebraska Ethanol Board, Nebraska Corn Board and local corn growers will be on site greeting drivers, pumping fuel, and providing giveaways.

“When we choose renewable biofuels at the pump, we save money and support a homegrown fuel,” said Megan Grimes, Nebraska Ethanol Board program manager. “Nebraska-produced biofuels are cost-effective, American-made, renewable, and better for our environment.”

One in seven Nebraskans are driving a flex fuel vehicle, which can run on any blend of American Ethanol up to E85 (85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline). Drivers can check their owner’s manual to see if they’re driving a flex fuel vehicle. The vehicle might also have a flex fuel badge on the trunk or tailgate — or have a yellow gas cap.

American Ethanol is a clean-burning, non-toxic, renewable source of octane. Using homegrown, locally-produced ethanol reduces the levels of harmful chemicals in our fuel — and in the air we breathe.