2002 Friend of Ethanol awards presented to local legislators The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) and the South Dakota Corn Growers Association (SDCGA) are pleased to announce the winners of the 2002 Friend of Ethanol Award. Throughout the month of September, ACE and the SDCGA held town hall meetings in seven communities across South Dakota. At those meetings, ACE and the SDCGA gave updates on the growth of the ethanol industry in South Dakota and presented awards to state legislators in recognition of their support and dedication to South Dakota's growing ethanol industry.
Ethanol town hall meetings were held in Yankton, Rapid City, Oacoma, Brookings, Aberdeen, Sioux Falls, and Watertown. The town hall meetings were jointly hosted by ACE and the SDCGA as well as the South Dakota Farm Bureau, the South Dakota Farmers Union and all of the state's ethanol plants. The South Dakota chapter of the American Lung Association also participated in the meetings through explaining the health benefits of ethanol. About 40 legislators were able to attend the meetings to receive their awards in person. Certificates were mailed to those legislators who were unable to attend.
Darrin Ihnen, a corn grower from Hurley and president of the South Dakota Corn Growers Association, said "The ethanol industry is going through a tremendous growth phase in South Dakota right now and much of the credit goes to the state legislature, which has really created a positive climate for the growth of the ethanol industry in South Dakota."
Ethanol is a renewable fuel that is produced mainly from corn. Many benefits are provided through the use of ethanol including the proven fact that ethanol is good for the environment due to the fact that auto emissions are reduced when ethanol is blended with gasoline. Ethanol production also benefits our rural economy by creating jobs in rural areas as well as increased markets for agricultural products. In addition, ethanol production and use has national security benefits, reducing the amount of oil that is imported into the United States in order to meeting our energy needs.
There are currently seven ethanol plants operating in South Dakota (Scotland, Aberdeen, Huron, Wentworth, Milbank, Watertown and Rosholt) producing over 163 million gallons of ethanol each year. Currently two ethanol plants are under construction, one in Chancellor and one in Groton which are being constructed to produce 40 million gallons each per year. In addition, there are also two more ethanol plant projects in development in the communities of Platte and Aurora.
"The ethanol industry is the largest economic development activity going on in the state right now," said ACE Executive Director Trevor Guthmiller. "The ethanol industry has already invested over $300 million in capital and construction costs in South Dakota, and more will be spent developing new plants in the next two years. Currently, the ethanol industry employs over 400 people in the state at a wage nearly double the state's annual average wage."
Just as important as the new jobs that are being created at ethanol plants, according to Lisa Richardson, executive director of the South Dakota Corn Growers Association, is the opportunity for farmers to participate in value-added ag processing. "Over 5,000 farm families are invested in one or more of the state's ethanol plants," Richardson said, "and within two years, one in every four rows of corn grown in the state will be used to make ethanol."
Gary Duffy, a corn producer from Oldham and president of the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council, said that the growth in the ethanol industry in South Dakota would also have other benefits.
"While most of the focus is on ethanol production, ethanol plants also produce a high quality feed by-product called distillers grain. Having a good, economically priced supply of distillers grain available will hopefully lead to growth in livestock production and feeding in South Dakota, in addition to hopefully spurring increased dairy production."
Ihnen, Guthmiller, Richardson and Duffy all believe that one of the more important things that the South Dakota Legislature can do is support increased ethanol production and use in the state. Ethanol is a value-added process that not only promotes increased homeland security; it also creates jobs for rural America.