Midwest Grain Sale Going Down (Under)

Cindy Zimmerman

Midwest Grain By a 2 to 1 margin, the shareholders of Midwest Grain Processors last week approved a deal to sell majority ownership in their cooperative to Australian company Global Ethanol. Over 1,000 of the 1,300 members of the co-op in Lakota, IA turned out for the vote on Thursday. Dave Nelson, Midwest Grain Processors’ board chairman, told Agriculture Online “The turnout for the vote was unbelievable. It was better than a Presidential election turnout.” Not to mention more decisive. With 717 votes in favor and only 348 opposed, we probably won’t be hearing calls for a recount. However, those who were opposed to the deal remain opposed to the concept of foreign ownership in domestic fuel production. According to the Des Moines Register, “There wasn’t enough time to digest the information or investigate it thoroughly,” said Lennon Brandt, a farmer from Swea City. “I thought the vote might be close, but when people aren’t informed, they tend to trust the board.”
It’s the first time a foreign company has bought control of an ethanol co-op, but those in the industry believe the growth potential means it’s probably just the beginning.

Ethanol

Team Ethanol Will Go On

Cindy Zimmerman

The pain is still too fresh for Paul Dana’s friends in the ethanol industry to even start talking about it, but the questions are being asked, and the Wichita Business Journal got some answers from Team Ethanol sponsors ICM and EPIC. ICM

“Absolutely we’ll be back,” ICM President and CEO Dave Vander Griend says. “It’s a tragic, tragic loss, a very tough one for me personally. But the best thing we can do for Paul’s legacy is to continue on, and we’ll do that.” EPIC
Plans for the ethanol racing team are on hold this week out of respect for Dana’s memory, says Tom Slunecka, EPIC executive director.
But keeping Dana’s drive alive to promote ethanol awareness will take center stage later, he says.
“I think we owe it to him to prove his legacy true,” Slunecka says. “We owe it to him to march on in behalf of him, in behalf of the fervor he had for both ethanol and racing. Ethanol was far more than a sponsor to Paul.”

EPIC, Ethanol

Wait and See

Cindy Zimmerman

USDA’s Prospective Plantings report out Friday says that farmers will plant five percent less corn acreage this year and seven percent more soybeans than a year ago – mainly because of higher fuel and fertilizer costs. So, what does that mean for ethanol production? Don Roose, an analyst with U.S. Commodities says “This puts the end users on notice like ethanol plants,” according to this article in AgricultureOnline. The Des Moines Register reports that Al Larson, who manages NEW Cooperative’s seed warehouse in Knierim, is skeptical about the report’s findings. “Our yields here the last three years have been just phenomenal,” he said. “I think it might go the other way. Ethanol demand, I think, is going to drive a lot of it. It’s everywhere you look.”
USDA’s estimate was well below what the trade was expecting – almost two million acres less than the low end estimate – so skepticism may be in order. And, as always, yields will largely depend on the weather, which is not predicable in any year. So, we just have to wait and see what really happens this year.

Ethanol

BP Ethanol from Wheat and Fat

Cindy Zimmerman

BPTwo articles out of Australia talk about BP’s new ethanol plans announced this week – making it from wheat and animal fat. The Weekend Australian story, which actually was published tomorrow on the other side of the world, says BP “would be producing 200 million litres of biofuels within two years. More than half will be derived from tallow – the fat of cattle and sheep – which will be processed to extract ethanol. The ethanol will be mixed with normal petrol, allowing BP to market a blended fuel known as E10 throughout the country by 2008.” They will also be making it from wheat, according to this ABC news story, about 200,000 tonnes a year. Farmers Federation state president Trevor de Langrafft says the plant is a win for wheat farmers. “It’s great to hear such an initiative being developed in Western Australia,” he said.

Ethanol

Washington State Adopts Biodiesel Requirement

Cindy Zimmerman

NBB This week, Washington became the second state “to commit to making biodiesel an everyday part of the diesel fuel market.” According to a release from the National Biodiesel Board, Washington passed a bill that “sets a requirement that at least 2 percent of diesel sales by volume will be comprised of biodiesel, with 2 percent ethanol in the gasoline market.” The requirement is similar to a law that took effect in Minnesota in 2005.

The requirement goes into effect November 1, 2008 or when in-state production can meet the 2 percent requirement, whichever comes first. The law is expected to create demand for 20 million gallons of biodiesel annually in the first year. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that the state of Washington consumed one billion gallons of diesel in 2004.

NBB will be providing help with the implementation process.

Biodiesel

Hunting Ethanol

Cindy Zimmerman

MPH blog Check out the MPH Blog to follow Dave on his hunt for ethanol around Chicago in a Tahoe. Dave wanted to find out more about the “magical blend of corn and gasoline called E85 (which) is either the answer to America’s dependence on foreign fuel or one big scam by farmers, depending on the blogs you read.” So, he got a new Flex Fuel Chevy Tahoe for a week of testing. He writes that he took a “Google Earth view of most of the surrounding E85 stations according to www.e85fuel.com. Note that only two are actually in the City of Chicago. So I’ll be checking out the wilds of the suburbs to see the commutability, price and mileage provided by E85 in the real world. The hunt is on.”

Ethanol

Ethanol Advocate Remembered

Cindy Zimmerman

Dana The article I like best about Thursday’s memorial for Indy Car driver Paul Dana is from Indystar.com.

Lauded for being more than just a race car driver, Paul Dana was honored Thursday as a leader in the renewable fuel industry.
Dana brought together three of the nation’s leading corn-based fuel manufacturers — previously fierce rivals — to sponsor an open-wheel car in 2003.
Ethanol not only had its decals on Dana’s Indy car when he died Sunday of injuries suffered in an accident at Homestead-Miami Speedway, its product was in every Indy Racing League car.
The IRL is using a 10-percent mixture of ethanol this season and will switch totally in 2007.
“He was taking (ethanol’s) message to the world, not just a state or a country,” IRL chaplain Bob Hills said in a celebration of Dana’s life at a theatre along the course he was to have raced this weekend.
“Ethanol wasn’t just a sponsor to him,” Hills said of Dana. “At times he was tough to shut up about it. Ethanol and the IRL were brought together because of him.”

Amen.

EPIC, Ethanol, Indy Racing

Gates Deal Slow to Close

Cindy Zimmerman

Pacific Ethanol Pacific Ethanol is running behind with its annual report and its deal to sell stock to Bill Gates. According to a Reuters stock market report Friday, the company said its annual report will be late due to delays completing its audit. It expects to file the report by April 17. The company also said it will not close on Friday on the sale of $84 million in preferred stock to Gates’s investment vehicle Cascade Investment LLC, as had been planned. That deal was announced last December. The Cascade deal is supposed to close about the same time the annual report is due out.

Ethanol

More than a FEW

Cindy Zimmerman

FEW Registration is now open for the 22nd Annual International Fuel Ethanol Workshop and Expo, June 20-23 in Milwuakee, Wisconsin. You read that right – 22 years. According to the website, the workshop began in 1985 in St. Louis with just 40 people in attendance and has increased to over 1,800 in 2005 representing 45 States, 6 Canadian provinces and nearly 30 countries around the world. BBI International runs the event which is designed to provide the ethanol industry with the latest information on technology, products, services, research and new ideas for improving production, product yields, and operations of an ethanol facility. Sponsorship opportunities and exhibitor information is also available on-line.

Ethanol

Second MS Biodiesel Station Opens

Cindy Zimmerman

Earth Biofuels Celebrities and lawmakers gathered ’round the pump this week for the opening of the second Earth Biofuels “BioWillie” filling station in Mississippi. According to a press release, among those in attendance was actor and Earth Biofuels board member Morgan Freeman. Also on hand was Mississippi state senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, who stated, “I cannot think of anything better we can do for the agricultural and farming community than what we are doing here today.” The new biodiesel truck stop/service station located in Grenada, Miss. The first Earth Biofuels station in the state opened last year near Jackson.

Biodiesel