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MARION, Ohio — With farmers feeling the pinch of low commodity prices, the expansion of a biorefinery in Marion, Ohio, could bring a little extra premium to area corn growers.
POET Biorefining-Marion broke ground Aug. 15 to expand its production capacity from 70 million gallons of ethanol per year to 150 million gallons. The expansion will also increase the production of dried distillers grain from 178,000 tons annually to 360,000 tons.
“This is a big deal,” said Dave Shindollar, a farmer from Allen County and member of Ohio Farmers Union.
With crop prices being the way they are, Shindollar said the biorefinery could help farmers secure a little extra premium for their crop.
“I think it’s a big deal to try and be self-sufficient,” he said.
Good for agriculture
Ohio Agriculture Director David Daniels participated in the groundbreaking ceremony and commented on the importance of biofuels to the agriculture economy.
“We are so happy that POET has made this investment (in Ohio),” he said. In Ohio, “we can produce enough corn for our biofuel needs and feed our livestock,” said Daniels.
He added the expansion would create even more market opportunities for Ohio producers and help the state’s number one industry — food and agriculture — continue to grow.
“Today we can say we are firmly rooted in energy,” said Daniels.
The expansion will add 26 million bushels of new corn demand annually for the local area explained POET CEO Jeff Broin. This will expand their current consumption of Ohio corn from 24 million bushels to 50 million bushels a year.
“The ag potential of the world is virtually untapped,” said Broin, noting the record high production of corn in the past year and the lower demand for corn in food products.
“Biorefining is the future,” he said, adding the starches and cellulose in that extra corn are valuable for biofuels like the ethanol produced at the Marion facility.
The expansion project is slated for completion in the third quarter of 2018.
Broin started producing biofuels with his family in Minnesota. He said, growing up on the family farm in the ’80s, he saw how low commodity prices hurt a lot of the farms in his community and saw neighbors forced to give up their family farms.
At 22, Broin and his family purchased a bankrupt ethanol plant in South Dakota in 1987. Today, there are 27 POET Biorefining production facilities in seven states — Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and South Dakota.
POET came to Marion in 2008. POET also has refinery locations in Fostoria and Leipsic.
Also in attendance for the groundbreaking was U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio; representatives for U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown D-Ohio; U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio; and U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio.
Each congratulated POET on the expansion and thanked Broin for choosing Ohio as the location for the biorefinery.
POET also provided postcards for biofuel supporters to fill out addressing the recent EPA proposal that would lower the overall biofuel volumes blended into the U.S. fuel supply. Comments could be left for the EPA outlining their personal experiences with biofuel production.