GROWMARK FS Joins Propane Days at Capital

NPGAMembers of the GROWMARK and FS System were recent participants in the National Propane Gas Association’s (NPGA) 2015 Propane Days at the nation’s capital. This news release says the members were educated regarding affairs and legislation that affects the propane industry and how to be actively involved in its development.

“The Propane Days conference was a great opportunity to work with dedicated FS and GROWMARK experts as well as the Illinois Propane Gas Association. It was a privilege to work together and with our legislators toward the common goal of promoting propane as a clean, alternative fuel of choice,” explained Kevin Johnson, energy specialist with Heritage FS, Inc.

Attendees had the opportunity visit with their Congressional representatives to encourage the extension of key tax provisions, equalization of taxes on propane, and parity of propane relative to other auto fuels. The event also provided networking opportunities with other industry colleagues throughout the nation and a discussion with PERC staff to learn more about the national Propane Education and Research Council (PERC) efforts.

“I feel the Congressional visits will reward the industry for years to come. The visit to PERC was such an eye opening experience which yielded great information. I can’t wait to share my new found knowledge with my team back home,” said Chris Olson, LP and retail marketing manager with Illini FS.

GROWMARK Acquires MO Refined Fuels Terminal

growmarklogoIllinois-based cooperative GROWMARK, Inc. is acquiring the refined fuels terminal near St. Joseph, Missouri from Magellan Pipeline Company with an intent to offer ethanol blends in the future in addition to diesel.

Kevin Carroll, Vice President of GROWMARK’s Energy Division, says the acquisition will help them solidify the cooperative’s commitment to the energy business in northwestern Missouri and northeastern Kansas, expand capacity and facilitate continued growth. “We currently have a reliable supply of refined fuels. However, with the addition of the St. Joseph terminal we will be able to more easily grow with our customers in the region,” he said.

Carroll said Magellan will continue to deliver refined fuels into the St. Joseph terminal via its Midwest pipeline system.

GROWMARK provides energy-related products and services, agriculture-related products and services, and grain marketing in the Midwest and Ontario, Canada.

Energy Fuels Big Year for GROWMARK

Growmark_logoEnergy was a big reason that regional cooperative GROWMARK had such a big year this year. This company news release says Fiscal Year 2014 was in the top five income years in company history, and a lot of the credit goes to record volumes in the company’s propane and biofuels business.

bohbrinkMarshall Bohbrink, vice president and chief financial officer, reported record sales of $10.4 billion; consolidated pretax income of $194 million; and total patronage in the amount of $112 million will be returned to GROWMARK member-owners.

“GROWMARK is in extremely strong financial condition and we are well positioned in the event the Ag economy is more challenging in the next few years,” said Bohbrink.

Key highlights of FY2014 operational results include:

GROWMARK Energy reported record fuel volume with an increase in gasoline and distillate sales of 11% and an increase of 29 percent in propane gallons.

FS Propane Autogas Demos in Illinois and Wisconsin

fs-propaneGROWMARK and local FS member companies in Illinois and Wisconsin are hosting five events this week to share information about Propane Autogas as an alternative to petroleum and compressed natural gas (CNG) fuels.

“There’s quite a few sectors, such as schools, municipalities, buses, and fleets, that are starting to convert their fleets to Propane Autogas,” explains GROWMARK propane marketing and business development manager Scott Long. He says while it’s been around for years, the cleaner-burning, economical features, including saving up to 40 percent above what petroleum-based products cost, are really making big impressions on the fleets. “The city of Springfield, Ill. is running bifuel (able to take both propane and regular gasoline), they converted 24 vehicles to propane this past year, and they’re saving about $82,000 per vehicle.”

The tour kicks off today, making stops today in Carbondale, Ill., in Springfield, Ill. and Bloomington, Ill. tomorrow (Tuesday), Wednesday in Madison, Wisc., and finishing up in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisc. on Thursday. In addition to industry representatives, the events will have propane powered buses, service trucks, and vehicles on display. Attendees will have an opportunity to participate in demonstrations of the vehicles. Local FS dealers have more information on where and when to be to see the demonstrations.

Scott goes on to say that with the environmental benefits of 12 percent fewer carbon dioxide emissions, a 20 percent drop in nitrogen oxide emissions, and 60 percent fewer carbon monoxide emissions than traditional petroleum-based fuels, using Propane Autogas makes sense for big cities and rural areas.

“The benefits, not just from the economic savings are there, but also from an environmental side, too.”

Listen to more of the interview with Scott here: Interview with Scott Long, GROWMARK

GROWMARK Terminal Gets Biodiesel Certification

BQ9000GROWMARK‘s Menard Terminal, near Petersburg, Ill., is being recognized for its quality biodiesel. The company received BQ-9000 certification by the National Biodiesel Accreditation Committee.

The National Biodiesel Accreditation Program, called BQ-9000, is a cooperative and voluntary program for the accreditation of producers and marketers of biodiesel fuel. The program’s criteria for certification combine the ASTM standard for biodiesel, ASTM D6751, with a quality systems program that includes storage, sampling, testing, blending, shipping, distribution, and fuel management practices.

The facility features include heated storage, insulated piping, filtration and a pulse blending system. Biodiesel offered at Menard is 100% soy-based and meets all of the requirements of the industry standard, ASTM D6751, and the more stringent GROWMARK Quality Assurance Program. Blends in 2%, 5%, 11% and 20% for both clear and dyed diesel fuel are available. Dieselex Gold and SURE-FLO IV are also available for blending at the rack.

GROWMARK bought the Menard Terminal facility five years ago. It has storage capacity of more than 10 million gallons for gasoline, diesel fuel, ethanol and biodiesel, with the ability to custom blend biodiesel.

AgFanatics Talk Ethanol & RINs

agfanaticsA podcast we’ve talked about on our sister website, AgWired.com is the AgFanaticsAgriVisor Account Manager Cory Winstead and AgriVisor Risk Management Specialist Nick Klump, who talk ag issues on a regular basis. No surprise that ethanol and Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) made it onto their radar, as it is a topic pretty important in ag circles.

In this episode of the AgFanatics podcast, the guys try to bring a little more knowledge to the the discussion of about of ethanol production and blending. Recently, they talked to Tim Abel, GROWMARKS Refined Fuels Supply and Trading Manager to clear up some of the issues on the topic.

Check ’em out!

Ft. Dodge Terminal Great for GROWMARK Energy

GROWMARK has made several changes since purchasing the Fort Dodge Fuel Terminal in Duncombe, Iowa two years ago – and the cooperative company continues to grow the facility which was originally built more than 40 years ago.

“GROWMARK has made a lot of improvements to get a good quality system where customers can depend on it to come and get fuel 24 hours a day,” said terminal manager Bill Fandel, who has been at the facility for nearly 40 years himself. “We’ve been in a constant state of construction.” Capacity has increased to over nine million gallons for fuel oil and about 3.5 million gallons for gasoline.

GROWMARK also added 76,000 gallon storage capacity for ethanol and 30,000 gallons for biodiesel. “We’re blessed with about eight ethanol plants in a 40 mile radius,” Fandel said, and at least two biodiesel plants within 40 miles. “It is all soy, no animal fat,” he added.

Listen to my interview with Bill here: Bill Fandel, Ft. Dodge Terminal

Demand for both ethanol and biodiesel are good at the Fort Dodge Terminal. “The majority of the gas going out of here has ethanol in it and a lot of our member companies are using the bio,” said Fandel. Customers select their blend at the terminal for both ethanol and diesel.

Facility operations manager Greg Eckhart says the Fort Dodge facility has been a great investment for GROWMARK. “It was a great asset sitting right in the middle of our territory already, it was a terminal we did use before and we saw potential and growth,” said Eckhart, who added that they have nearly doubled volume in two years.

Adding ethanol and biodiesel was good for them. “We’ve increased the gas loading here tremendously because of that,” Eckhart said.

Listen to my interview with Greg here: Greg Eckhart, GROWMARK

Celebrating National Co-op Month

Each October, cooperatives across the United States celebrate the contributions of cooperatives to their communities during National Co-op Month and this year continues the celebration of 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives with the slogan “Cooperative enterprises build a better world.”

As one of the nation’s largest cooperatives, GROWMARK has been celebrating all year long, so we talked with president and chairman of the board Dan Kelley about why co-ops are so important for agriculture, both nationally and globally. Kelley says he was surprised to learn this year that nearly a billion people around the world are members of some type of cooperative. In addition to celebrating a year and a month dedicated to cooperatives, Dan says GROWMARK has been celebrating 85 years of existence as a cooperative.

The largest division of GROWMARK is the energy division which offers a complete line of refined and renewable fuels, lubricants, additives and propane to residential, commercial and industrial consumers in northwestern Iowa and beyond.

GROWMARK‘s core cooperative membership is in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa, but in recent years have expanded into other states including Colorado, Pennsylvania and Maryland and a solid membership in Canada as well.

Listen to an interview with Dan Kelley here: GROWMARK President Dan Kelley

Biofuels Help Boost Co-op Income

USDA celebrated October National Cooperative Month and the United Nations International Year of Cooperatives with the release today of the top agricultural cooperatives and their revenues for 2011.

According to the release, farmer, rancher and fishery cooperatives posted record sales last year of $213 billion and $5.4 billion in net income, surpassing the previous record sales year of 2008 by $10 billion while besting the old income record by $500 million.

“These new cooperative sales and income records for 2011 underscore the strength and productivity of the nation’s farmer- and rancher-owned cooperatives, and the vital role they play in the nation’s economy,” said Dallas Tonsager, under secretary for Rural Development. “Primarily because of mergers, the number of farm co-ops continued to decline, but memberships and asset values are up.” Tonsager also noted that co-op employment levels remained strong, with cooperatives employing 184,000 full-time, part-time and seasonal workers, up slightly from 2010.

CHS Inc. of Saint Paul, Minn – an energy, farm supply, grain and food co-op – was once again the nation’s largest ag co-op, with $36.9 billion in revenue in 2011, up by a whopping 50% from 2010. Part of the CHS cooperative portfolio is CHS Renewable Fuels Marketing, a leading ethanol marketer, and that part of the business helped the co-op boost revenues in 2011. The fourth ranked agricultural cooperative, GROWMARK, also markets biofuels under its energy division.

While not included under the list of agricultural cooperatives, Tonsager notes that “many of the ethanol plants across the country, or biofuels projects, either are cooperatives or cooperative-like institutions, where they are limited liability companies that have a democratic vote.”

Listen to or download Tonsager’s remarks here: USDA Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager