The Ethanol Committee of the National Corn Growers Association met in Kansas City this past week week to consider the challenges and opportunities facing the industry.
“The market for ethanol has grown exponentially over the past decade, thus utilizing an abundance of corn to meet the already-present need for a renewable, domestic biofuel,” said Chad Willis, a Minnesota corn grower who serves as chairman of the committee. “Now, we face a myriad of challenges and opportunities as those in the industry continue to innovate while some outside of it continue attempts to deny ethanol’s incredible value to our nation.”
Participants got a first-hand look at the LifeLine Foods business model in St. Joseph, Mo., exploring the possibilities for creating even more food and fuel from every kernel of corn. The company, which produces products for both domestic and international markets, is unique in creating both ethanol and corn-based food products by using the separate components of corn to their fullest capacity.
“After years of hearing rehashed iterations of the food-and-fuel debate, we found the tour of LifeLIne to be both interesting and inspiring,” Willis said. “Companies such as this demonstrate that, through a mixture of creative thought and hard work, we can find new ways to use corn even more productively and solve an array of societal needs.”
The committee of farmer leaders from around the Corn Belt also had the opportunity to meet the NCGA’s new Director of Biofuel Programs and Business Development Pam Keck, who is a scientist and educator with more than 20 years of experience in the agricultural and biofuels industry, academia and not-for-profit research.
Keck most recently contracted with Monsanto, coordinating an outreach program that brought together schools and scientists. She has previously taught chemistry at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville and at Lewis and Clark Community College. She has also served as assistant director of workforce development and scientific projects at the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center.