Number one ethanol producer POET will idle production at three of its of 27 bioprocessing facilities across seven states, joining dozens of other plants forced into that position around the country.
The South Dakota-based company will idle plants in Chancellor, S.D., Ashton, Iowa, and Coon Rapids, Iowa, and delay the start-up of its new plant in Shelbyville, Ind., as producers across the United States continue to grapple with the economic fallout of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. On an annualized basis, these operational changes are expected to reduce corn demand by 110 million bushels, freezing 330 million gallons of ethanol production across the four facilities. POET has also significantly slowed production and stopped buying corn at other facilities.
“Across the board, biofuel producers and our partners in the farm community face an unprecedented challenge,” said POET Founder and CEO Jeff Broin. “Unfortunately, plummeting fuel demand amid the coronavirus pandemic has overwhelmed markets already suffering from continued trade barriers, a foreign price war over oil and regulatory uncertainty here at home.”
Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says the POET plants join a growing list of plants that have cut or halted production in California, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oregon, and South Dakota. “At this rate, nearly half of America’s biofuel production could soon be offline. These plants support hundreds of thousands of jobs, including a highly-skilled manufacturing workforce that rural America cannot afford to lose,” said Skor. “We urge policymakers to act swiftly to expand markets for higher biofuel blends, lift regulatory barriers to vital markets, and ensure that financial assistance is available to farmers, workers, and rural businesses hit hardest by the crisis.”