Fifteen Middle Eastern and African high-level government officials and ethanol decision makers visited Granite Falls Energy last week to learn more about how ethanol is made in the United States. The tour was organized through the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) in partnership with the Minnesota Corn Research and Promotion Council and the Minnesota Corn Growers Association. The delegation visiting the state include members from Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi and Jordan.

“This impressive group of ethanol leaders are in the U.S. to learn how U.S. ethanol contributes to meeting their biofuels goals including increasing environmental, human health and economic benefits not only in their respective countries, but around world,” said Ryan LeGrand, USGC president and CEO. “Concerns about the environment, air quality and human health have led governments to find renewable contributions to transportation fuel and our hope is by learning more, these decision makers will see the United States as their partner in meeting these needs.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA’s FAS) ethanol has been the fastest growing agricultural export from the United States over the last 10 years. In 2018, U.S. ethanol exports amounted to more than 6.5 billion liters (1.72 billion gallons or 609 million bushels in corn equivalent), and was valued at $2.7 billion. Using trade data on 47 different agricultural and ag-related product groupings tracked by USDA’s FAS via its Global Agricultural Trade System (GATS), ethanol exports grew by 18 percent per year over the past five yours and 13 percent per year over the past 10 years.

During their post-Summit tour in Minnesota, the delegation stopped at an ethanol retailer to learn about various ethanol blends, the U.S. fuel market and how distribution works. They learned about the advantages of octane in ethanol over traditional fuel sources and saw firsthand the economics of blending by visiting two refineries and then touring the Granite Falls ethanol plant. Participants also received guidance on ethanol plant construction in addition to visiting a corn farm to gain a better understanding of ethanol feedstock production and see why the ethanol industry is crucial to the rural economy in the U.S.

The Summit and the post-tours across the midwestern United States follows two previous regional ethanol summits – the Ethanol Summit of the Americas held in October 2017 and the Ethanol Summit of the Asia-Pacific held in May 2018. Additional funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) program and other sponsors are supporting the expanded focus of these activities.