September 24, 2017

Three Decades in the Making – Pushing POET to Be a Leader in Ethanol – Our Special Feature with Jeff Broin

This past week, we had the pleasure to visit with Jeff Broin, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of POET LLC, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. We shared a wide-ranging discussion about the biofuels industry that began with two simple thoughts… How biofuels are one of the keys to unlock greater prosperity in the slumping ag economy… and how the use of E15 gasoline blends are growing, and the benefits of E15 for producers and consumers.

Corn ethanol is the first phase of the biofuels evolution. Other phases will follow.

POET has led the efforts to be one of the first in the world to commercialize cellulosic ethanol.

POET has operated a pilot cellulosic ethanol plant since 2008 in Scotland, South Dakota, at the site of the first plant the Broin family has operated since 1987.

A grand opening was held for Project LIBERTY near Emmetsburg, Iowa in September of 2014.

There’s been a lot of rhetoric in the political realm about the “food versus fuel” debate, but many experts point out the potential for the ethanol industry and the livestock industry to co-exist well into the future.

Also – a powerful new factor has entered the economic equation of supply and demand for renewable fuels, as the scientific community warns about the dangers of greenhouse gas emissions.

You can listen-in on our visit, here —> POET Jeff Broin Sept 20 2017


Dow and Purdue Make Breakthrough In Preventing Phytophthera Root Rot In Soybeans

A research breakthrough by Purdue University and Dow Agrosciences could add millions to the bottom line of North and South Dakota farmers.  A collaborative effort between the two has unearthed a novel soybean gene that provides resistance to Phytophthera Root Rot, one of the most devastating and costly diseases affecting soybean producers.  The disease has become especially common in the southern parts of the Red River Valley, preferring to habitate in heavy, compacted clay soils.  The fungus further thrives in wet years with flooding conditions, something that’s not uncommon in the major soybean growing areas of the Northern Plains.

The research team screened a wide variety of soybean genetic material using a number of approaches. The research team pinpointed a gene called Rps11 that confers strong resistance to multiple types of Phytophthora sojae, a soil-borne pathogen that causes both soybean stem and root rot.

With this discovery, molecular markers can be developed to rapidly incorporate the resistance gene through traditional breeding techniques into elite soybean varieties to help protect farmers’ soybean yields against stem and root rot. Dow AgroSciences intends to make the technology broadly available to soybean farmers.

The findings were to be highlighted at the World Soybean Research Conference in Savannah, Ga., but the meeting was canceled due to Hurricane Irma. Research papers and talks are expected to be released soon.

Purdue’s Jianxin Ma, professor of agronomy, said that as more Rps resistance genes are identified, they might be stacked to enhance the strength and endurance of soybean resistance to the pathogen.

“Discovering technology to help soybean farmers tackle tough problems is at the core of this project, and our success in collaborating with Purdue on this project illustrates the power of public/private efforts to advance agriculture,” says Oswald Crasta, Global Genomic Breeding Lead, Dow AgroSciences.

The joint research has allowed Purdue to touch on strategic goals that include addressing major national and global agricultural challenges and offering cutting-edge research experience to students.

“The collaboration between Purdue and Dow AgroSciences through projects like this has created a win-win situation that enhances our capabilities to address the grand challenges that face the real world,” Ma said. “This project not only provides funding to support our graduate students, but also offers them unique opportunities to interact directly with our industrial collaborators. Such an experience would strengthen their research and social skills to solve significant global problems.”


NCGA Supports Funding Increase for MAP, FMD Programs

The National Corn Growers Association praised the introduction of the CREAATE Act, a bill to increase investment in two federal programs with a proven track record of building global demand for U.S. agricultural products.The bipartisan bill, introduced by Senators Angus King (I-Maine), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana), and Susan Collins (R-Maine), would increase investment in the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development program (FMD). A companion bill was introduced in the House earlier this year.

MAP and FMD are public-private partnerships that promote U.S. agriculture. Together, they are responsible for 15 percent of U.S. agricultural export revenue—$309 billion since 1977.

“MAP and FMD are critical programs for building and expanding global markets for American agricultural exports. We must increase investment in these programs,” said Wesley Spurlock, a Texas farmer and president of NCGA.

“These programs deliver a strong return on investment. Every $1 invested in MAP and FMD generates $28 in exports—that means more American jobs, and more money coming into our communities. Now more than ever, we need to invest in export and market development programs like these to build global demand and help farmers’ bottom lines,” said Spurlock.

Funding for MAP and FMD has not kept pace with inflation, administrative costs, the growth of the global marketplace, or the investments other countries have made in their own export promotion. The FMD program is also under threat to lose its baseline funding when the farm bill expires in 2018.

The CREAATE Act would gradually increase MAP funding from $200 million to $400 million per year and FMD funding from $34.5 million to $69 million per year, over the next five years.

“Thank you to Senator King, Senator Ernst, Senator Donnelly, and Senator Collins for leading the effort to strengthen the MAP and FMD programs. These programs have already been successful, but with increased investment, they can help even more American farmers and ranchers compete around the world,” said Spurlock.