By Dana Siefkes Lewis

Jan. 28, 2023

In South Dakota, corn production generates more than $4 billion in total value for the state and remains a key driver of our ag economy. Historically, we have celebrated how this level of productivity among our corn growers makes them leaders in both feeding and fueling the world. The ethanol industry today purchases approximately 60% of all the corn grown in the state, which makes the dozens of ethanol plants across South Dakota critical to maintaining strong commodity prices and land values in the years to come.

However, the simple truth is that agricultural markets rarely remain stable and likely face even greater fluctuations than most other industries. That’s certainly been true for ethanol producers in recent years who confronted small refinery waivers that artificially removed billions of gallons of demand from the marketplace and a global health pandemic that dramatically reduced the number of people traveling. Based on those experiences, we can no longer afford to stand still and hope for the best. Instead, it is important to find new ways to make investments today that adequately prepare us for the future and take advantage of emerging economic opportunities.

That’s why virtually every ethanol plant in South Dakota has joined a carbon capture, transportation and storage project. I believe I have a unique perspective on this trend. For nearly two decades, I was the Chief Administrative Officer for Redfield Energy, plus had the privilege of serving as President of the South Dakota Ethanol Producers Association and an executive committee member of the Renewable Fuels Association, a national industry association.

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