Syngenta made headlines this week with news that ChemChina, a Chinese state-owned company, has offered to acquire the company with the cash purchase of all Syngenta shares. The $43 billion deal must still be approved by two-thirds of Syngenta shareholders and receive regulatory approval.
During a call with reporters, Syngenta Chief Operating Officer Davor Piskof said the offer will allow Syngenta “to continue as a stand alone company,” and keep its commitment to research and innovation. “To ensure that Syngenta remains Syngenta (is) one of the most important elements of this transaction,” said Piskof, adding that it “helps preserve choice for growers at a time when we’re seeing a lot of consolidation.”
“We continue to make very good progress with our Enogen trait offer for bio-ethanol plants, with now 18 plants contracted to receive Enogen corn and another 28 prospects that we are confident will be signing up during the course of this year,” said Piskof. The most recent plant to sign an agreement to use Enogen was Midwest Renewable Energy in December.
There are now 16 ethanol plants using Enogen corn according to Syngenta. When combined, the plants have a production capacity of more than 1 billion gallons of ethanol per year. In addition, Syngenta says there are also in talks with a number of other plants to begin using the only biotech corn designed specifically to improve ethanol production.
Last year, Enogen was grown on nearly 225,000 acres while in 2016 that number is expected to exceed 400,000 acres. According to Jack Bernens, head of Enogen for Syngenta, the robust alpha amylase enzyme found in Enogen corn hybrids helps an ethanol plant dramatically reduce the viscosity of its corn mash and eliminate the need to add a liquid form of the enzyme.
“This breakthrough viscosity reduction can lead to unprecedented levels of solids loading, which directly contributes to increased throughput and yield, as well as critical cost savings from reduced natural gas, energy, water and chemical usage in ethanol plants,” Bernens said. “Growers who plant Enogen corn benefit as well – they earn an average premium of 40 cents per bushel.”
Syngenta says Enogen is growing in popularity because of the value it delivers and the opportunity it provides corn growers to be enzyme suppliers for their local ethanol plants. Assuming an average yield of 165 bushels an acre, Enogen corn is expected to generate approximately $26 million of additional revenue for local growers in 2016 through per-bushel premiums. Numerous trials have shown that Enogen hybrids perform equal to or better than other high-performing corn hybrids.
“The agreements we have in place with a steadily increasing number of plants will enable them to source alpha amylase directly from growers and keep enzyme dollars in those local communities,” added Bernens. “This is what truly sets Enogen corn apart from other technologies designed to enhance ethanol production. It adds significant incremental value at the local level for communities that rely on their ethanol plant’s success.”
Growers of Syngenta‘s Enogen corn, especially designed for ethanol production, will get rebates on some of their agricultural equipment. Chief Agri/Industrial Division will provide Enogen corn growers rebates on grain bins and other equipment.
A growing demand for high ethanol-yielding grain is creating the potential for corn growers to increase their income per acre. Earlier this year, Syngenta introduced the Ethanol Grain Quality Solution (EGQS), an initiative that includes agronomic protocols and best practices specifically designed to contribute to higher yields, improved grain quality and more ethanol per bushel.
“Grain quality requires attention to detail,” said Roger Townsend, President of Chief Agri/Industrial Division. “The goal should be to minimize quality deterioration at each step of production and during postharvest. We look forward to working with Enogen growers to help them maximize grain quality and return on investment.”
“Corn is the single biggest input cost for an ethanol plant, and ethanol yield per bushel is one of the biggest drivers of plant profitability,” said Guy Hartwig, head of Enogen grain operations at Syngenta. “Increasingly, ethanol plants are seeking not just clean, dry corn with little or no damage and foreign material, but also grain with quality characteristics that can maximize ethanol production per bushel, including more accessible starch. Chief’s industry-leading grain-handling technology and best-in-class customer service will help Enogen growers maximize profitability, while helping to support the ethanol industry.”
Chief’s stiffened bins have a great reputation for superior strength, durability and ease of installation. Greater access to technology and expertise from Chief will enable Enogen growers to provide ethanol plants with more high-quality corn.
Maker of Enogen corn, Syngenta, recently announced it had raised money for ethanol infrastructure through the “Prime the Pump” campaign, an industry initiative to help early retail adopters of high-level ethanol blends through grants to reduce their initial investment in infrastructure. By donating a dollar for every acre of corn planted with the Enogen variety, Syngenta will put approximately $600,000 into the fund. In addition, the company teamed up with local FFA members at the American Ethanol 200 NASCAR truck race in Iowa and matched dollars the group raised through donations at the race, a percentage of that the FFA groups get to keep.
Dan Lopez is the high school guidance counselor at South Tama. He said his students were able to get out and talk with a lot of the tailgaters at the race.
“One hundred percent of the folks have been behind [ethanol],” he told Chuck during an interview, adding the people have been appreciative of Syngenta’s efforts to get more ethanol out to consumers and how the company supports the FFA.
Miranda Johnson who teaches at Twin Cedars Community School District said the folks at the race understand ethanol. “They understand the importance of using ethanol. It’s been great!”
While Johnson said her FFA hasn’t decided yet what to do with the money raised, Lopez’s FFA plans to use its share to send students to the national FFA convention.
Combining its own patented process for converting the corn kernel fiber into cellulosic ethanol with Syngenta’s Enogen corn, specially bred for ethanol production, Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP) is boosting its bottom line, as well as the profits for local growers. During an interview at the American Ethanol 200 in Iowa, CEO Delayne Johnson explained they use the alpha amylase enzyme already in Enogen corn with their own process to enhance the production of ethanol.
“When we combine the two technologies together, the benefits of [Enogen and the technology] allows plants to get up to 15 percent additional throughput, reduce energy content by 10 percent, and it also allows them to get all the benefits out of [both technologies combined],” he said.
Delayne added the $1 million a year his company doesn’t have to pay for the alpha amylase enzyme it would have had to add to ethanol production allows it to pay premiums to local farmers.
“It’s been fantastic for continuing to turn the dollars in rural America.”
Syngenta’s Enogen seed corn, specially bred just for ethanol production, is “priming the pump” for infrastructure to keep the green fuel flowing. Previously, Syngenta announced a major donation to the Prime the Pump fund, an industry initiative to help early retail adopters of high-level ethanol blends through grants to reduce their initial investment in infrastructure. During an interview with Chuck at the American Ethanol 200 in Iowa, Chris Tingle, Head of Marketing for Enogen said approximately $600,000 will be raised for the initiative by contributing $1 for every acre planted with Enogen corn enzyme technology.
“[This allows for] the adding of equipment and enabling the use of ethanol more broadly,” he said, adding they’re getting some help from FFA students there. “We’re happy to partner with the FFA to support Prime the Pump. For every dollar the local FFA chapter collects here at the race, we’ll match.”
Chris went on to explain that the valuable enzyme in Enogen corn adds value for the ethanol plants and the farmers who grow it. Another important feature to know about Enogen is it doesn’t have to be a 100 percent blend of the variety when ethanol is made for it to be effective. “It’s really only about 15 percent of the overall corn that needs to be Enogen corn that needs to go into that [ethanol] plant to make the [maximum efficient use of the enzyme].”
He’s been a guy handing out roses to the ladies on “The Bachelor” and wowing everyone with his fancy footwork on “Dancing with the Stars.” Now, Chris Soules says he just a “normal famous guy” back home in Iowa supporting agriculture and getting back to what he loves: farming. He recently served as the grand marshal for the American Ethanol 200 and talked to Chuck at the race about the importance of ethanol and how Syngenta’s Enogen corn seed, bred especially for ethanol production, is an key part of the food and fuel products coming from American farms.
“This is an exciting event for me,” he said. “We’re promoting Enogen corn that’s helping build the ethanol industry and adding value back to the farmers. It’s exciting to have a platform that helps farmers connect with the consumer and tell the story of ethanol and how important it is to Iowa’s and the entire U.S.’s economy.”
Soules knows firsthand how much value ethanol has added to corn. He remembers the days when we had $1.30 a bushel corn, and while the prices are down a bit now, they’re still better with the ethanol market. He also pointed out how farmers are making feed and fuel for America and the world. “Having that diversity in our energy is really important. Keeping that market is something we need to work hard to do.”
Iowa RFA members will be among those testifying at a public hearing on Thursday to explain what is wrong with EPA’s latest proposal to set volume obligations for biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). “We’ll be testifying to show the benefits that ethanol provides to the whole country and also get the message across that EPA just can’t change the law,” said Cahill, who says that having the hearing in the Midwest will allow many RFS supporters to attend. “There’s more than just ethanol involved in this so hopefully we’ll see a good show of support for the biofuels industry in Kansas City.”
The ethanol industry is supporting women in agriculture. The Renewable Fuels Association and Syngenta, maker of ethanol friendly Enogen corn, join a growing group of sponsors of the American Agri-Women Drive Across America. The nation’s largest coalition of farm, ranch and agri-business women, is celebrating 40 years of advocating for agriculture with its “Drive Across America.”
AAW President Sue McCrum and other leaders will drive in a specially wrapped pick-up truck, participating in educational, network and advocacy events hosted by AAW’s more than 50 affiliates. The Drive will finish at the 2015 annual convention in Portland, Maine.
Today Syngenta announced a major donation to the Prime the Pump fund, an industry initiative to help early retail adopters of high-level ethanol blends through grants to reduce their initial investment in infrastructure. On the pane (l-r) are Chris Tingle, Syngenta; Ray Defenbaugh, Prime the Pump; Kelly Manning, Growth Energy; Delayne Johnson, Quad County Corn Processors and Chris Soule, Iowa farmer and star of ABC’s The Bachelor and Dancing With the Stars.
Syngenta says it will donate approximately $600,000 to the initiative by contributing $1 for every acre planted with Enogen corn enzyme technology. This effort stated in 2013 and is being extended to 2016. Besides the money being raised for the Prime the Pump initiative, the FFA students here today helping collect money for the fund will be receiving matching dollars for the money they raise. So, when you look at the value to the ethanol plants of Enogen corn which already has a vital enzyme for processing which saves the plant money; the fact that farmers growing Enogen corn are receiving a significant bonus incentive on the price of their corn; the fact that this initiative is helping expand the market and use of ethanol and local FFA chapters are benefitting, it seems like a win-win for everyone.