USDA Deputy Secretary Addresses Iowa Biofuels Summit

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USDA Deputy Secretary Steve Censky had the pleasure of announcing the Senate passage of USMCA to the crowd at the 2020 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit Thursday in Altoona, Iowa.

“Just about 20 minutes ago, I’m proud to say that the Senate finally passed the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement on a vote of 89 to 10,” said Censky as the crowd broke into applause. “Yeah, let’s clap for that.”

During his address, Censky also talked about the other big trade news out this week – signing of the phase one trade deal with China. “And that is going to have major impacts across the board for a host of commodities, not only soybeans and corn, pork, beef, poultry, specialty crops, tree nuts, ethanol, dried distillers grains, pet food … it all is going to really add up.”

Censky discussed actions the Trump Administration has taken on behalf of the biofuel industry, including approval of year round E15, working with EPA to guarantee mandated levels of biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard, and USDA’s creation of a new Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program announced Thursday.

Listen to Censky’s remarks here.
2020 IRFA Summit - USDA Deputy Secretary Steve Censky remarks (17:26)

Audio, Biodiesel, corn, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Exports, Iowa RFA, Trade, USDA

RFA CEO Offers Outlook for Ethanol’s Future at Iowa Summit

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As the keynote speaker at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit Thursday, Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper said “2019 sucked” but the industry is focusing forward now into the “Roaring ’20s.”

Cooper offered four predictions for the new decade.

1. The battle over the Renewable Fuel Standard will continue and intensify
2. The use of low carbon fuel standards will spread to other states and regions
3. U.S. ethanol exports will resume vigorous growth
4. E15 will become the standard gasoline blend in the United States

Regarding the last of these, Cooper reminded his audience of the history of E10. “Twenty-five years after its commercial introduction, E10 still only accounted for about 20 percent of total US gasoline sales,” he said. “But in just seven years—between 2003 and 2010—E10 saw hockey-stick growth and went from about 20 percent of the market to almost 100 percent of the market.”

Closing his speech with a note of optimism, Cooper ended with a fifth prediction that flows from these prior ones: “Ethanol’s best and brightest days are ahead of us!”

Listen to Cooper’s address here:
2020 IRFA Summit - Geoff Cooper, Renewable Fuels Association (26:42)

Audio, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Iowa RFA

USDA Seeks Input on New Biofuels Infrastructure Program

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking input on the creation of a new Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) to expand the availability of domestic ethanol and biodiesel by incentivizing the expansion of sales of renewable fuels.

This Request for Information (RFI) solicits information on options for fuel ethanol and biodiesel infrastructure, innovation, products, technology, and data derived from all HBIIP processes and/or science that drive economic growth, promote health, and increase public benefit. Through this RFI, USDA seeks input from the public, including but not limited to: retail fueling stations, convenience stores, hypermarket fueling stations, fleet facilities, and similar entities with capital investments; equipment providers, equipment installers, certification entities and other stakeholder/manufacturers (both upstream and down); fuel distribution centers, including terminals and depots; and those performing innovative research, and/or developing enabling platforms and applications in manufacturing, energy production, and agriculture.

A full description of the RFI is available in the January 16 Federal Register.

Biodiesel, biofuels, Ethanol, Ethanol News, USDA

Ethanol Groups Optimistic as China Trade Deal is Signed

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Ethanol organizations expressed optimism about the signing of the historic Phase One Trade Agreement with China Wednesday, despite China’s announced suspension of its E10 ethanol mandate last week.

“We are very optimistic about the potential of this agreement for American agriculture and the renewable fuels industry—with the inclusion of ethanol and key co-products like distillers grains—and are looking forward to more specific details on the agreement,” said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “America’s ethanol producers have experienced significant economic losses due to punitive Chinese tariffs on our products, and we are eager to return to a more open trading relationship with China.”

“Phase one represents a positive step in the right direction, especially once we have evidence that China has made actual purchases of U.S. ethanol and distillers grains, but given ongoing export and domestic market constraints, there is much more work to do,” said American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings.

National Corn Growers Association President Kevin Ross, who was present at the White House for the signing said, “China holds tremendous opportunity for American corn, ethanol and DDGs and NCGA looks forward to learning further details of what phase one will mean for these products. As more specifics become available, we will closely monitor implementation to ensure that the commitments are upheld and that U.S. corn farmers resume trading with Chinese customers. NCGA urges the Administration to quickly commence phase two negotiations and work to resolve retaliatory tariffs.”

President Donald Trump touted the importance of the agreement to farmers and ranchers during the signing ceremony with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He. “The agreement tears down major market barriers for U.S. food and agricultural exports. China will now welcome American beef and pork, poultry, seafood, rice, dairy, infant formula, animal feed, biotechnology and much, much more.”

President Trump recognized a number of senators in attendance at the signing, including Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and Deb Fischer of Nebraska. “All they want to know about is ethanol, ethanol – but we got it done,” said Trump. “We brought home the ethanol, man.”

Soundbites from President Trump and Vice President Pence related to agriculture:
China trade agreement signing soundbites

ACE, Audio, corn, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Exports, NCGA, RFA, Trade

National Biodiesel Conference to Unveil “Vision 2020”

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The National Biodiesel Board will unveil its “Vision 2020” for the industry during the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo in Tampa, Florida on January 20-23.

The largest gathering of North American biodiesel enthusiasts arrive in Florida on a roll with recent policy victories in Washington, DC, and California, as well as a heating oil industry that is partnering with producers to reduce pollution in the Northeast with the cleaner burning, renewable fuel.

“Last year at this time, U.S. biodiesel and renewable diesel producers faced an uncertain future,” said Donnell Rehagen, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board. “Thanks to our members and the support of the industry’s coast-to-coast champions, we’re rolling into the new year reinvigorated to deliver even more biodiesel to both our transportation and home heating fuel customers.”

While celebrating the advancements in 2019, Rehagen said the focus at the conference will be to share a clear vision for what the biodiesel industry needs to accomplish in the years ahead.

NBB Communications Manager Samantha Turner provides a preview of the conference in this interview, more information and registration can be found at

Interview with Samantha Turner, NBB Communications Mgr (6:02)

Full multi-media coverage of the conference can be found for the 15th year on the Biodiesel Conference Blog. Check out archives going back to the 2006 conference in San Diego.

Audio, Biodiesel, Biodiesel Conference, National Biodiesel Conference, NBB

Has the U.S. Really Achieved Energy Independence?

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Opinion by Scott Richman, Renewable Fuels Association Chief Economist

From the RFA Blog

The recent conflict with Iran and its proxies in Iraq has served as a reminder of the enduring potential for geopolitical risk to unsettle petroleum markets – not just globally but also in the U.S. While the U.S. has become significantly more energy-secure over the last decade, as a result of increasing domestic production of both crude oil and biofuels, we are not yet independent when it comes to petroleum, despite the claims of oil industry representatives and some political leaders.

Just within the last week, the head of the American Petroleum Institute gave a speech on the state of American energy in which he asserted, “Reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign energy was the stated goal of every one of our last seven Presidents. … Now, finally, the United States has achieved this bipartisan goal.” In recent days, politicians also have claimed that we no longer need oil from the Middle East. This is not the case.

According to the latest statistics, the U.S. was on a trajectory to import 2.5 billion barrels of crude oil in 2019, nearly a quarter of which originated from OPEC. In fact, half of the top ten origins for crude oil are OPEC members; Saudi Arabia and Iraq are the third- and fourth-largest sources, and the U.S. was on track to send them $12.3 billion and $7.8 billion, respectively.

The latest Short-Term Energy Outlook from the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that the U.S. is forecast to have produced 4.5 billion barrels of oil in 2019, and refineries are forecast to have used 6.1 billion barrels of oil. This means imports accounted for 36% of supply and 41% of refinery usage.

Continue reading…

Ethanol, Ethanol News, Oil, RFA

ACE Appoints Director of Member and Industry Relations

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The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) has appointed Nick Fosheim, former executive director of South Dakota’s Lincoln and Minnehaha County Economic Development Associations, to serve as Director of Member and Industry Relations.

ACE CEO Brian Jennings says Fosheim’s experience coordinating business attraction and retention efforts and connecting community organizations and staff to development resources makes him a natural fit to enrich current relationships with the organization’s members and other constituencies, as well as expand ACE’s diverse membership base to support its efforts in building market demand for ethanol.

“We are excited Nick Fosheim is bringing his ability to connect people across multiple platforms and his enthusiasm for ag and advocacy to the ACE team,” Jennings said. “Having worked in a membership-based environment, Nick will hit the ground running to advance relationships with ACE’s current and potential members, industry partners and supporting organizations, while developing new strategies to promote our efforts throughout the industry.”

“People are at the heart of what drives ACE,” Fosheim said. “I’m looking forward to getting to know ACE members and connecting with the people who power this grassroots organization over the coming months.”

Fosheim grew up on a dairy farm in South Dakota and joins the ACE staff after seven years of coordinating and implementing economic development and marketing strategy with 14 communities in Lincoln and Minnehaha counties.

ACE, Ethanol, Ethanol News

RFA 2020 Safety Webinar Series Kicks Off

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The Renewable Fuels Association, in partnership with TRANSCAER, is hosting a free ethanol safety “Train the Trainer” webinar on Tuesday, January 14, for ethanol emergency response teams. This will be the first of four in 2020, with the others taking place April 7, June 23 and August 18.

The webinar will take place from noon to 2 p.m. ET and is funded through a Federal Railroad Administration/TRANSCAER grant. It is designed to train a group of individuals who can then turn around and pass that information forward, equipping entire communities with the knowledge necessary to respond to any potential ethanol-related emergency.

Led by national hazardous materials trainer Joel Hendelman, the webinar is open to all professional individuals above the technical level of training who are interested in learning how to teach ethanol emergency response.

Registration is limited 100 attendees. Certificates will be awarded to all completing the webinar. Click here for details and to register.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA, safety

USDA Under Secretary Bullish on Ethanol

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As China announced a suspension of its ethanol mandate last week, Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney said he remains bullish on expanding exports for the fuel, despite the trade challenges.

“Ethanol is one of the most needed products around the world, but for some doggoned reasons, continues to be held out,” said McKinney, during an interview Friday at the Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference. “But I am still bullish.” McKinney said China, Mexico and India offer the best opportunities for increasing ethanol exports.

Listen to McKinney’s comment here:
USDA Under Secretary Ted McKinney comments on ethanol trade issues (:40)

With the China Phase One trade deal slated to be signed this week, and USMCA getting closer to the Senate floor, McKinney had a lot to discuss in this full interview from the conference.
2020 SRFVC Interview with USDA Under Secretary Ted McKinney (6:17)

2020 Southeast Regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference Photo Album

Audio, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Exports, USDA

SD Farmer Provides Input for Clean Fuels Policy Paper

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South Dakota farmer Ron Alverson believes in the future of corn ethanol as a low carbon fuel and that accurate carbon accounting is key to a successful and fair Clean Fuels Policy for the Midwest.

Alverson, who is past president of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) and the SD Corn Growers, was a chief contributor to an ACE white paper about the low carbon benefits of corn ethanol that was released in 2018 and served as the impetus behind the Clean Fuels Policy for the Midwest report released this week by the Great Plains Institute.

Alverson says a successful regional clean fuels policy would similar in approach to low carbon fuel standards (LCFS) in California but Midwest friendly. “We’re going to try to incentivize corn producers to reduce their greenhouse gases,” said Alverson. “We fully expect to have a much lower CI footprint for a Midwest type LCFS than we do in California.”

Learn more in this interview:
Interview with Ron Alverson, Dakota Ethanol

ACE, Audio, corn, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Low Carbon Fuel Standard