Is There An Ethanol Squeeze?

"Like most other industries across the country, ethanol is feeling an economic pinch. Only the squeeze has become particularly tight for ethanol," according to The Wichita Eagle in an Oct. 14 article. "It began well before Wall Street’s recent turmoil and has been partly fueled by the industry overproducing, according to economists,” the article stated.

“Put all the pieces together and you have some ugly scenes escalating for ethanol plants and related fields,” the Wichita Eagle article continued. “A handful of U.S. plants have shut down. Gateway Ethanol in Pratt recently filed bankruptcy. ICM, based in Colwich and the nation’s leading designer of ethanol plants, laid off 73 employees earlier this month for a total of 178 since April. VeraSun Energy Corp., the nation’s second-largest ethanol producer, has been reduced to junk-bond status. Other plants under construction have stopped building.”

Jay O’Neil, a senior agricultural economist at Kansas State University, told the Wichita Eagle that “the industry is really at a bit of a crossroads.”

Federal mandates for ethanol production created a hot ticket. The rush to jump on ethanol’s bandwagon saw an explosion of plants between 2005 and 2006. But as production of ethanol exceeded the mandate levels, the price for ethanol tumbled, and so has the industry. “We got too much too quickly,” O’Neil said. “And then the market conditions came together to spoil the profitability, the fun so to speak.”

Plants that got on the wrong side of the corn prices also have been hit hard. When prices soared this summer to nearly $8 a bushel, some plants bought corn to hedge against even higher prices. Instead, corn prices fell and are now under $4 a bushel. Now add in the fact that the cost to build a plant has roughly doubled over the past 18 months. “They overbuilt lickety-split,” David Swenson, an economist at Iowa State University, told the Wichita Eagle. Critics say all that’s keeping ethanol plants afloat are the federal mandates for specific production amounts."

Todd Neeley, DTN’s ethanol reporter, countered that “as corn prices have moderated in the past several months, not only has ethanol profitability improved on a cash basis, but a number of companies have announced that they will build new ethanol plants.

East Coast Ethanol LLC is one of those companies, announcing that it will build four corn-based plants in the Southeast,” Neeley said. “In addition, First United Ethanol announced the start-up of production at a 100-million-gallon corn-based plant in Albany, GA. While there have been many signs of trouble in the industry including an announcement by VeraSun Energy Corp. that it could see third-quarter losses exceed $100 million as a result of a failed hedging strategy, the number of ethanol companies announcing bankruptcy seems to be few. At last count there were just five companies filing for bankruptcy since 2007, accounting for as much as 135 million gallons of production capacity.”

(Sources: The Wichita Eagle; DTN)

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Management Stories

ManagementWashington Update, Dow-DuPont Earnings, and the Passing of an AGCO Legend
April 27, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the latest Beltway news, crop protection company 1st quarter numbers, and the Read More
Donald Trump
Crop InputsTrump Targets Agriculture with Latest Executive Order
April 26, 2017
(Via UPI.com) President Donald Trump on Tuesday took executive action in an effort to help grow the domestic agriculture industry Read More
Sonny Perdue
LegislationSonny Perdue Confirmed by Senate as Next Agriculture Secretary; Praised by ARA
April 25, 2017
After months without a secretary of agriculture, the Senate voted Monday evening to confirm former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to Read More
Stewardship video screenshot
ManagementNew Video Raises Awareness of 2,4-D Stewardship
April 24, 2017
A new public service video developed and produced by the 2,4-D Research Task Force, in conjunction with the American Soybean Read More
Trending Articles
Crop InputsFlying Under the Radar No More, FMC Goes Big
April 13, 2017
Describing FMC as “under the radar,” admittedly, is probably a stretch. But in a snap of the fingers, FMC upped Read More
Young Corn Plants
Crop NutritionStill Hunting Yields
April 1, 2017
There’s no denying it — the agricultural marketplace today is undergoing a fundamental shift in fortunes. Not too many years Read More
Nutrients for Life Foundation Teacher
FertilizerNutrients For Life Foundation Celebrates 10 Years Teaching Fertilizer Education
March 23, 2017
Those in agriculture know fertilizer is a vital ingredient to grow strong, productive crops. In fact, fertilizer is responsible for Read More
AdjuvantsA New Weed-Control Era Begins: But First, One Last Obstacle
March 4, 2017
There is trepidation, there is reluctance, and there is excitement. Ag retailers feel it all about the new dicamba and Read More
LIFT Academy video screenshot
Crop InputsLIFT Agriculture Academy: A Q&A With West Central Distribution’s Dean Hendrickson
March 1, 2017
West Central Distribution recently launched its LIFT Agriculture Academy, a new, premiere training and professional development resource for West Central’s ag Read More
Farmer and aptop
Matt Hopkins10 Warning Signs Your Website Is Grossly Outdated
February 8, 2017
Your Website is often a visitor’s first impression of your ag retail business. A positive first impression can set the Read More
Latest News
ManagementWashington Update, Dow-DuPont Earnings, and the Passing…
April 27, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the latest Beltway news, crop protection company 1st quarter numbers, and the Read More
BRANDT
CropLife 100Former PotashCorp COO Joins BRANDT Board
April 27, 2017
BRANDT has announced the appointment of another industry veteran to its board of directors. David Delaney, most recently EVP and Read More
Syngenta headquarters in Basel, Switzerland
Crop InputsFortune: Inside China’s $43 Billion Bid for Food …
April 26, 2017
(Via Fortune.com) The worst famine in human history occurred in China from 1959 to 1961. An estimated 34 million people Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsSyngenta Announces Changes in Board of Directors
April 26, 2017
ChemChina and Syngenta announced changes relating to the new Board of Directors of Syngenta following the closing of the ChemChina Read More
Crop InputsBioSafe Systems Introduces PerCarb Broad-Spectrum Bacte…
April 26, 2017
BioSafe Systems announces PerCarb (Sodium Carbonate Peroxyhydrate), a new alternative to potassium bicarbonate and lime sulfur products for use in Read More
Deere Twitter
EquipmentTop 10 Twitter Pics for #Plant17
April 26, 2017
Despite some wet weather in parts of the Midwest, growers and ag retailers are working feverishly to plant this year’s Read More
Donald Trump
Crop InputsTrump Targets Agriculture with Latest Executive Order
April 26, 2017
(Via UPI.com) President Donald Trump on Tuesday took executive action in an effort to help grow the domestic agriculture industry Read More
AGCO Ratliff featured
EquipmentAGCO Mourns Passing of Company Founder, Industry Vision…
April 25, 2017
AGCO Corp., a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment and solutions, mourns the passing of founder and former President, Read More
Engenia soybeans
Crop InputsINNVICTIS CROP CARE Introduces VANDAL MOC Soybean Herbi…
April 25, 2017
INNVICTIS CROP CARE, LLC has announced the U.S. EPA registration for VANDAL MOC, a combination of sulfentrazone plus metolachlor. VANDAL Read More
Kochia
HerbicidesINNVICTIS CROP CARE Launches STAVE Post-Emerge Broadlea…
April 25, 2017
INNVICTIS CROP CARE, LLC has introduced STAVE as the newest addition to­ its expanding portfolio. STAVE will be a great Read More
Sonny Perdue
LegislationSonny Perdue Confirmed by Senate as Next Agriculture Se…
April 25, 2017
After months without a secretary of agriculture, the Senate voted Monday evening to confirm former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to Read More
BPIA logo
Seed/BiotechBPIA Files Comments with USDA
April 24, 2017
The Biological Products Industry Alliance (BPIA) has filed comments with the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Plant Read More
Eric SfiligojHope for Application Equipment Sales
April 24, 2017
The old saying goes that a “rising tide lifts all boats.” If this is indeed the case, then things may Read More
Stewardship video screenshot
ManagementNew Video Raises Awareness of 2,4-D Stewardship
April 24, 2017
A new public service video developed and produced by the 2,4-D Research Task Force, in conjunction with the American Soybean Read More
ManagementAn Inside Look at Award Winning Ag Retailer Gar Tooteli…
April 20, 2017
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj discusses An Inside Look at Award Winning Ag Retailer Gar Tootelian Read More
Students Soybean Field
Industry NewsMACA Announces 2017 Young Leader Scholarship Recipients
April 19, 2017
The Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) Board of Directors selected 11 college students to receive the MACA Young Leader Scholarship Read More
Growmark FS Outlet
SoftwareKnoa Software Solution Helps GROWMARK Boost System Perf…
April 19, 2017
Knoa Software, a leading provider of user experience management (UEM) software, has announced that GROWMARK, Inc., a regional agricultural cooperative Read More
Crop InputsFBN Publishes ‘Voice of the Farmer’ Agricul…
April 17, 2017
Farmer’s Business Network (FBN) released today its “The Voice of the Farmer”, which the company is describing as “a special Read More