Page 1


Bridging the Corn Yield Gap Innovative farmers prove the U.S. average corn yield of 170 bushels per acre is just a stop on the way to more food, feed, fuel and fiber.

making waves with


The History of POET – Marketing and Research Evolve POET builds from within to tackle ethanol and co-product marketing challenges.

Building a Foundation: Mission Greenhouse 2016 POET team members return to Kenya to start construction on the new kitchen and dining hall.

Summer 2016


FEATURES 10 Building a Foundation: Mission Greenhouse 2016

by Courtney Heitkamp POET team members return to Kenya to start construction on the new kitchen and dining hall.

18 The History of POET – Marketing and Research Evolve

by Peter Harriman POET builds from within to tackle ethanol and co-product marketing challenges.

28 making waves with ethanol computer Visit for the latest news, career opportunities and plant profiles. Cover and Contents photos by Jeff Helmkamp

by Steve Lange Clean engines, clean air and clean water.

36 Bridging the corn yield gap

by Holly Jessen Innovative farmers prove the U.S. average corn yield of 170 bushels per acre is just a stop on the way to more food, feed, fuel and fiber.





in sight

by Jeff Broin

POET, LLC 4615 North Lewis Avenue Sioux Falls, SD 57104


top tweets



16 Perspective


26 farm fresh 34 NASCAR update ®

42 energy for life 45 RENEW


48 People of poet 56 OUT OF LEFT FIELD


by Scott Johnson

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COPYRIGHT Vital is published quarterly by POET, LLC and other individuals or entities. All materials within are subject to copyrights owned by POET. Any reproduction of all or part of any document found in Vital is expressly prohibited, unless POET or the copyright owner of the material has expressly granted its prior written consent to so reproduce, retransmit or republish the material. All other rights reserved. For questions, contact the POET legal department at 605.965.2200. The opinions and statements expressed by content contributors and advertisers in Vital are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of POET. Neither POET nor its third-party content providers shall be liable for any inaccuracies contained within Vital, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

In the spirit of its continued commitment to being good stewards of the environment, POET is proud to produce Vital using 100% recycled paper, with eco-friendly soy-based ink.



©2016 POET, LLC. All rights reserved.

Publication Design & Layout: Cassie Medema

in sight by Jeff Broin, Executive Chairman and CEO of POET

Too much corn? Over the past year, Vital has been explaining the history behind POET, a story that began on a family farm in Wanamingo, MN when I was merely 14 years old. At this time, corn prices had already dropped to $1.30 a bushel with no end in sight. There simply had to be a better way, which is why my father decided to turn to ethanol production as a way to use up his low-priced corn and turn it into higher value energy. With another potential corn and agricultural crisis looming, we must not overlook the facts. The current national corn yield average is 160 bushels per acre, but I have seen technology that can boost yields to over 280 bushels in the near future. In fact, later in this issue you will have the opportunity to learn about our nation’s increasing corn yields and hear from farmers who recently won the national corn contest with a yield of 532 bushels per acre! Without increased ethanol percentages in gasoline, there is no way to use up the excess supply. Any possible ag crisis would not only affect farmers, but it could cause devastating impacts on both our Midwestern states and urban cities. If we do not fight back against government agencies and politicians that are pandering to oil companies and stopping the growth of ethanol usage, this downturn could easily last for decades. What most people don’t understand is that both the oil and ag industries need the gasoline market to succeed and are in a relentless war for control. That war is being played out in the Environmental Protection Agency and other regulatory bodies, the White House, the halls of Congress and even in our state legislatures. The winner of this battle will undoubtedly experience success, while the loser should prepare for a bleak future. Folks, the truth is on our side – ethanol is the right solution,



but this battle will not be easy. We know moving beyond a 10 percent ethanol blend will offer consumers lower prices at the pump, establish a cleaner environment and keep cancer-causing chemicals out of our fuel supply. Increased ethanol production has positive ripple effects throughout our economies including strong U.S. GDP, resilient net farm income and enhanced job opportunities for our rural communities, but the oil industry is determined to keep us at a 10 percent blend to pad their pocketbooks and maximize their volume while watching the ag economy struggle. If the oil guys win, there will be a crisis. We must re-energize ourselves to win this fight. I have said it before and I will say it again: agriculture producers and companies need to let Washington, D.C. know we need a larger share of the liquid fuel market. Ag land values have improved by over $4 million, and that could reverse again like it did in the 1980s. We need to expand E15 infrastructure and eventually move to even higher blends like E30 and E50. Driving our cause forward will take continued passion and investment of time and effort from all of us, including farmers and ag companies. I can assure you, oil landowners and investors are traveling to Washington to lobby and are investing in PACs that are working against ag and ethanol interests. We all know oil state politics traditionally have ruled the day in D.C., but if we work together, I believe our collective efforts to spread the truth about biofuels can drown out their lies. American author Orison Swett Marden once said, “A constant struggle, a ceaseless battle to bring success from inhospitable surroundings, is the price of all great achievement.” This quote rings true for all of us today. I am certain if we join forces and work together, we can improve our nation’s fuel supply and ensure a solid future for our industry for many years to come.

Contributing Every Day to the Lives of Ordinary Americans Our processes and equipment contribute to thousands of products we use daily‌the OJ we drink in the morning, the cheese sandwich we eat for lunch, the fuel we fill our cars with, the medicines we take to be well, even the water we drink. For over a century, GEA has been working to help make the products that make our world what it is today. Moving forward, our commitment continues as we work with POET to provide the separating technology required to produce renewable biofuels and agricultural co-products. To learn more about GEA’s centrifuges and separation equipment


and the industries we serve, email us at, call 800-722-6622, or visit us online at

top tweets Twitter is a forum for thousands of conversations taking place in 140-character comments, with participants from all over the world. People or organizations are represented by user names such as @ethanolbypoet. The topic of conversation is often highlighted with a hashtag (#). This is a sampling of what’s being said about energy and biofuels. The comments do not necessarily represent the opinions of POET, LLC.


@FuelsAmerica Proud to stand behind #biofuels supporters here today in #KansasCity telling the @EPA why the #RFSWorks. 90% of testifiers support the #RFS!


@ethanolbyPOET .@GrowthEnergy CEO Skor: #Biofuels like #ethanol replace cancer-causing agents. As a mother, “that call to action hits home.” #RFSworks


@souleschris Enjoying a corn-fed steak in KC before I tell the @EPA how the #RFSworks for consumers and farmers like me.


@SenJohnThune Toured @ethanolbyPOET in Groton this morning. They’re working hard every day for our energy independence. #RFSworks




@GrowthEnergy Thank you to everyone who has served or is currently serving in the United States Military! #MemorialDay2016


@RaskovicRacing Looking forward to driving the @AmericanEthanol SuperTruck in the National Ethanol Championships #June11 #Blessed


@AmericanEthanol “I really hope RCR can bring home some wins this year to solidify ourselves in #TheChase”


@KurtCulbert Sidebar: @austindillon3 green & black @AmericanEthanol car is one of my favorite paint schemes all year. Sharp. @RCRracing #NASCAR on @FS1


@HughCWelsh On my way to Europe reading about @solueschris in Vital @ethanolbyPOET. Who knew the Bachelor supported clean energy


@erick_hoffman It’s time to get some real work done and knock some spreadsheets out! #MoreThan a nerd! @ethanolbyPOET WWW.VITALBYPOET.COM




From issues relating to government policies, to infrastructure and opinion pieces, the ethanol industry has much to be reported on. Here is a representation of the past few months of news coverage. The comments do not necessarily represent the opinions of POET, LLC.


“Today, as margins in the ethanol industry are tight, farmers continue to see corn prices well below the cost of production, and investment in advanced biofuels projects have stalled, I am here to reinforce my statement last year as we review the 2017 proposed rule. While acknowledging the increase that EPA has called for in its proposed volumes, it still is short of the statute and has investors in our two plants concerned. These are the same men and women who we will need to help get any cellulosic expansion off the ground in future years. If their investments are not realized, how will I be able to convince them to invest in a newer technology that still is maturing?” – testimony from POET General Manager Steve Murphy during the EPA’s public hearing on the Renewable Fuel Standard.

5/18 “If the administration wants our industry to be aggressive when it comes to financing and commercializing low carbon fuels in the United States, as they have asked us to do, they need to hold up their end of the bargain and make some critical adjustments to the RFS final rule.” – Brooke Coleman, executive director of the Advanced Biofuels Business Council, in response to 2017 proposed renewable volume obligations.

5/24 “There’s one vital energy policy that Trump and his opponent, Hillary Clinton, have promised to support — the Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires that oil companies make increasing levels of clean, homegrown fuels available to consumers at the pump. Earlier this year, Trump made the simple point to voters that, ‘Energy independence is a requirement if America is to become great again. My theme is “Make America Great Again.” It’s an important part of it. The EPA should ensure that biofuel RVOs or blend levels match the statutory levels set by Congress under the RFS.’” – from an opinion piece submitted by Kevin Skunes, director of the North Dakota Corn Growers Association.

5/17 “‘I want to be a role model for my daughter, someone she can be proud of.’ Demonstrating to her daughter that women can be successful managers, especially in an industry like ethanol which doesn’t have many female managers, is important to her. At Poet, though, her gender is not an issue, Pitz notes. It really doesn’t matter, Pitz says, if you’re a man or a woman. ‘I don’t even think about it,’ she says. ‘With Poet, if you work hard and you’re good at what you do, there are unlimited opportunities.’” – an excerpt from Ethanol Producer Magazine, which profiled three women in leadership positions throughout the ethanol industry.



5/19 “America’s ability to produce its own energy to fuel our economy will help ensure our safety and keep our financial resources here at home. The use of American-made biofuels will also decrease the likelihood that we are drawn in to foreign entanglements around energy production. In the 21st century, energy security will continue to be vital to our national interests, and ethanol is set to play a central role at home.” – General Wesley K. Clark, former NATO supreme commander and board member of Growth Energy, writes in a column for the Des Moines Register.

5/12 “Kum & Go has stepped up and responded to consumer demand for lower-cost, higherperforming and more environmentally friendly fuel by adding E15 at their pumps. It’s been a pleasure working with such a forward-looking company and we congratulate Kum & Go on this important milestone.” – Growth Energy co-chair Tom Buis in a statement following Kum & Go’s announcement that it will expand its E15 offering by adding the fuel to approximately 30 additional locations across 10 states by year-end.

5/18 “EPA’s core mission is to protect public health and the environment. Today, with this proposed rule, it has failed that mission. Biofuels replace cancer-causing agents in gasoline and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The only way to expand these benefits is to allow the market to grow. Consumers deserve the right to choose higher blends of biofuels like ethanol at the pump. The EPA must amend these numbers to reflect the full volume for corn ethanol use laid out in statute.” – POET Founder and CEO Jeff Broin responds to the EPA’s proposed rule on the 2017 Renewable Volume Obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

4/22 “On Earth Day, as Secretary Kerry travels to New York to sign the United Nations climate deal, it is critical to remember that the Renewable Fuel Standard is the only policy in place that is taking meaningful steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to supporting this environmentally friendly policy, Growth Energy has been actively engaged in trade missions all over the world to bring clean burning fuel to other nations to help them meet their carbon reduction goals.” – from a Growth Energy press release on Earth Day.



BUILDING A Foundation


POET team members return to Kenya to start construction on the new kitchen and dining hall.

by Courtney Heitkamp


Four years have passed since POET’s first interaction with Travellers’ Oasis Centre (TOC), an all-girls boarding school in the town of Sultan Hamud, Kenya. Since that time, 84 individuals have traveled over 8,000 miles as Mission Greenhouse team members. I am fortunate enough to be part of this team and have represented Mission Greenhouse during two trips. Our mission is to nourish the souls, minds and bodies of some of Kenya’s brightest, but most vulnerable girls by providing them with a quality, faith-based education in a safe environment. TOC is located in Sultan Hamud, a small market village, situated halfway between Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi and the port city of Mombasa. The two cities are connected via a rutted, two-lane road, over-run with semis hauling products inland and buses crammed with travelers. Imagine driving from Chicago to St. Louis in bumper to bumper traffic, with no designated passing lane, and vendors lining the streets selling everything from homemade sling shots, fresh fruits to chilled bottled water. Our journey began along this road as we departed Nairobi, eyes focused on the landscape outside. We left the hazy Nairobi sky behind for the wide open spaces, where you may see a giraffe off in the distance or a zebra along the road. Like the United States, shops and hotels are under construction, but after a closer look, you’d notice the scaffolding is made of branches and twigs, with no cranes or heavy equipment in sight. That’s when it started to sink in that I was finally back in Africa.

Back in the place that forever changed my heart. Back at the school that laid a foundation for service and compassion within the souls of many, thanks to the vision Jeff and Tammie Broin saw and implemented back in 2012. Before our team began our work at TOC, we traveled to Amboseli National Park for an entirely different adventure. With Mount Kilimanjaro as our backdrop, the 2016 team began to develop relationships with one another and enjoyed the sight of elephants just yards away. We shared our greatest fears and our heartfelt hopes for the trip while sitting around a bonfire under the stars of the Southern Hemisphere. Check that off the bucket list. After two separate game drives, we began the bumpy trip back to Sultan Hamud where 150 girls were waiting, lined up and ready to greet us. The anticipation of this reunion was almost too much to handle and for those who were experiencing it for the first time, their joy was immeasurable. The collective sound of 150 voices singing in unison takes your breath away – there is something special about their enthusiasm, unabashed in their passion and unashamed of dancing in front of a group of foreigners. We may not have known the words to their songs, but in that moment, words and language didn’t seem to matter. Their songs and poems proclaim the transformative power education offers to these girls’ futures. If it weren’t for TOC, many would have been married off at a young age, or potentially



subject to the brutality of genital mutilation, even forced onto the streets and into prostitution. The struggles and obstacles these girls have overcome just to have the opportunity to be in school, stand in front of our team and share unbridled love and affection for each one of us, is truly inspiring. I remember myself at their age, complaining about being involved in too many extracurricular activities and counting down the days until I could drive independently. My upbringing is markedly different than the childhoods these girls experienced, but their contagious smiles make all of these differences irrelevant. Our histories help shape us up to this point, but it is our interactions with one another that will help shape our futures, regardless of what nation we call home. These bonds cross borders.

Laying the Groundwork There are several definitions of the word foundation, but two in


particular stand out to me: 1) the basis or groundwork of anything and 2) the act of founding, setting up, establishing. During this trip, we laid the foundation for a new dining hall which will be able to seat 400 girls and new kitchen which will be able to cook for even more. Work days were filled with hard labor – moving dirt, pushing wheelbarrows full of concrete, carrying block and moving more dirt (sometimes back to the spot we originally moved it from, but when in Kenya, do as the Kenyans do). Even amongst the sweat and sometimes frustration, we felt the power and the potential this new building will provide. Team members were encouraged to find a memento to permanently rest in the foundation – a family picture, a letter filled with love or meaningful trinkets. As we were preparing to set the first foundation block, we placed photos of the previous Mission Greenhouse teams next to it and it was almost too much for me to handle. In that moment, I knew the foundation we were building

was only possible because of the work the Mission Greenhouse teams of 2013, 2014 and 2015 did before us. A group of us gathered around the area and watched cement and mortar cover up the photos, knowing that we were now part of something much bigger than we ever imagined. Part of a foundation which has the potential to lay the groundwork of everything. Later on in the week, I had the opportunity to sit in on a Form 4 (12th grade) chemistry class. The teacher, Benson, handed me a test tube full of a bright blue liquid and told me it was copper. I’m sure I did something similar a half dozen times in AP Chemistry my senior year in high school, but this time, holding something so elemental felt different. I sat and watched as my chemical reacted to different quantities of another chemical, watched as something was fundamentally transformed by another agent. I looked around the room and understood these seniors had transformed just as much as the copper I was holding, thanks to the foundation

The 2016 Mission Greenhouse Team Courtney Heitkamp – POET LLC, Sioux Falls, SD Kate Slattery – POET LLC, Sioux Falls, SD Rod Pierson – POET Plant Management, Sioux Falls, SD Abe Hughes – Sioux Falls, SD (wife Diana and daughter Juliana) Barb Nyreen – POET LLC, Sioux Falls, SD (and grandson Joe Bauer) Shawna VanVoorst – POET LLC, Sioux Falls, SD Brenda and Ben Pinkerman – Sioux Falls, SD Darren Youngs – Project LIBERTY, Emmetsburg, IA Andrew Williams – Project LIBERTY, Emmetsburg, IA Lisa Sprang – POET Biorefining – Hudson, Hudson, SD Mike Primrose – POET Biorefining – Macon, Macon, MO Karley Ramsey – POET Ethanol Products, Wichita, KS Mitch McGonigal – POET Biorefining – Jewell, Jewell, IA Kari Cook – POET Biorefining – Alexandria, Alexandria, IN Robert Upham – POET Biorefining – Leipsic, Leipsic, OH Nicholas Perko – POET Biorefining – Cloverdale, Cloverdale, IN Dana Syrus – POET Biorefining – Cloverdale, Cloverdale, IN TOC has built. The week culminated with a dedication ceremony for the dormitory Mission Greenhouse built in 2014 and 2015. We gathered around the cornerstone, held a ribbon cutting and excitedly (and emotionally) followed the girls around the beautiful, colorful place to rest their heads. I couldn’t help but shed tears with the girls – tears of joy, not sadness, which are a bit new to the Kenyan culture. Looking at the dorm, looking at the girls and looking at our Mission Greenhouse team, I knew this was more than a building where 150 girls will live and learn. It is a physical symbol of the passion and dedication each girl has to her education and love Mission Greenhouse

Robin and Mary Herbon – Fremont Industries, Minneapolis, MN

Special thanks to the entire Broin family – Jeff, Tammie, Alyssa, Miranda and Austin – for their support and leadership to make this trip, and all future trips, possible.



has for each girl. We ended our time at TOC in song and dance, jointly celebrating all of our blessings. One of the final songs we sang with the girls was the traditional hymn, “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less” and I’ve been humming it ever since. My hope for the girls at Travellers’ Oasis Centre is built on nothing less than knowing these girls will change the world. My hope for Mission Greenhouse is built on nothing less than to continue building foundations which give others a solid rock to stand upon. My hope for Esther and Shadrack Muiu, the school’s founders, is built on nothing less than knowing they will never give up on one another and never give up on a single girl who has or will enter the school’s gates. These are the solid rocks I choose to stand on. All other ground is sinking sand.

For more information on how you can support Mission Greenhouse, please visit



“ With ever increasing corn yields

and improving technology, what do we do with this

excess corn? ”

Mike Morehouse, New Paris, IN

“Because of the weather last year, we didn’t get the yields around here that they did in the western Corn Belt, so I don’t think we have that big a surplus in this area. And we’re late getting our corn planted this year, which won’t help 2016 yields. But I know there’s a real glut in some places like Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. I think there would be some good opportunities in those states for some people to get back into livestock. When ethanol first came on the scene, a lot of people were worried about having enough corn for both food and fuel, but that doesn’t appear to be a problem.”


Jeff Lehman, Berne, IN

“I think eventually we’ll find a use for all of this corn somewhere, we always have. Ethanol’s been a key use of corn the last few years, but that seems to have leveled off. Here in this area our livestock sector has been increasing, so I think livestock expansion will use up a lot of it. ”

Caton Howard, Urbana, IN

“I think the livestock industry can fill a big part of that need. I think increasing exports is another key possibility.”

Tom Weaver, Rochester, IN

Cody McClure, Wabash, IN

“With higher yields and more corn, we need to increase demand for corn. I think we need to look for ways to increase exports, and we need to raise the ‘blend wall’ for ethanol. I think it’s time to go to E-15.”

“That’s a tough question. I think finding new uses for such a mound of corn may be pretty hard to do. I don’t think farmers can take an attitude of ‘grow as much as we can and let somebody else worry about how to get rid of it.’ At some point we may have to consider growing something else. And I really don’t see going back to a reserve program or idling acres being a viable answer. With starving people in the world, we don’t want it to be $10. But we need to moderate our production somehow so we can make a living and pay for our land and machinery.”




The History of POET –

Marketing and Research Evolve Throughout its history, POET found answers to the many challenges it faced by looking inward. by Peter Harriman

This is the fifth part of a series on the History of POET. Installments 1-4 can be read in the previous issues. WWW.VITALBYPOET.COM


It all began with the resurrection of a bankrupt ethanol plant in Scotland, SD in 1987. The plant rapidly expanded and led to the creation of a company to build new plants. Broin Companies, now known as POET, pushed the limits both of constructing stateof-the-art ethanol production facilities at a reasonable cost and, once built, managing them cooperatively and efficiently. As the 1990s progressed, the opportunities in the industry were growing. This presented Jeff Broin with a new and fundamental challenge. “As plants began being built throughout the Midwest, it became apparent there was a need for marketing of both ethanol and the co-products of the process,” says POET Founder and CEO Jeff Broin. “Lenders were asking for marketing proposals tied to business plans that we were putting together for new projects.” A consistent theme of Broin Companies’ success with renewable fuels has been a unique ability to identify opportunities others miss, then having the courage to create the means to secure those opportunities. The need for marketing was clear. However, when looking at marketing companies, says Broin, he found an industry whose members were mostly trying to take business from each other in current markets. No one was truly trying to build the market. So Broin set out to do it in-house. Broin Companies


would do its own marketing for the ethanol plants it built and managed. It would build and “prime” new markets so that plant startups would not have a major impact on prices, sometimes for extended periods, as he had seen in the past. “I remember we gave up a significant portion of the profit we made building the first plant because of the market price impact it had on our Scotland facility,” says Broin. Along with

the original company structure that integrated plant construction and production management into a Broin corporate culture, marketing provided a consistent, smart support for plants through start-up and beyond. “By keeping grain buying, ethanol marketing and coproduct marketing in house, we had control of our profit margin, which is critical in my opinion. You could say the right hand knew what the left hand was doing, which was not true of many of our competitors,” Jeff Broin says. Marketing ethanol required

a new name and a marketing director. Jeff Broin and Bob Scott had known each other for several years. At an American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) board of directors meeting in Benson, MN, Scott visited with Broin. Scott recalls “we were sitting having a beer that night after the meeting. Jeff talked about building more plants for more people and managing them. He said ‘it would be a good idea for us to also market ethanol. I think you should move to Sioux Falls and manage that division.’ A few months later we put it together. We set up the Ethanol Products marketing division in 1997.” W h a t e v e r misperceptions some motorists and fuel dealers had about ethanol, it was a fortunate time to sell it. The major oxygenate in the country’s gasoline supply, methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), had begun showing up in groundwater in 1996 following leaks. Ethanol stood out as the only alternative oxygenate that was required in gasoline to replace such a contaminant. Still, Scott found much of his job involved countering misconceptions rooted in socalled common knowledge about ethanol. “I’d get calls from people. ‘My car’s not running right.’ At least weekly every year we’d get calls from gas stations. ‘We’ve got water in our gas tanks.’” Scott remembers. “‘It must be the ethanol.’ Ice and snow on the lots thawed and some of it got

in the tanks. In both scenarios, it didn’t have anything to do with ethanol.” Oil industry resistance to ethanol was also prevalent in Washington, D.C., in state legislations and even at retail gas stations. “The oil industry will do almost anything, including mislead the public, to protect their market,” Jeff Broin said.

“Some [pipeline terminal] locations had good dealers,” Scott says. He remembers dealers who would install an ethanol tank near the gasoline terminal. “The semi tankers would get gasoline then go across the street and splash blend it [10% ethanol] themselves.” Today terminals have the ethanol available at the same location as the gasoline.

At the start of the 21st Century, ethanol’s proponents were individually taking steps to advance its use, but collectively the weight of their efforts was having only a modest impact on growing the industry. Broin would need to do more. After concluding two decades working for Koch Industries in Wichita, KS, including as a division manager, Bob Casper was vibrating with a recently gained knowledge about the potential of ethanol and distraught because no one else seemed to share his vision for building new ethanol markets. At Koch, says Casper, ethanol “was considered an additive. Once a year we would talk about it for an hour.” Casper did extensive research and became convinced ethanol could compete with petroleum in the fuel market. And Jeff Broin was the visionary Casper needed to make this marketing dream a reality. The duo decided to make it official. In August 2000, Ethanol Products advanced to a limited liability partnership and relocated to Wichita, KS, with Casper becoming president. New team members were added and the mission of the division was expanded. “It really took off,” says Scott. Casper immediately set sights on bringing ethanol to the St. Louis market, which used reformulated gasoline and was in need of a replacement for MTBE. “We did a deal with Shell to blend ethanol into its gasoline. BP was next. After that, everybody had to get into ethanol. They couldn’t compete [against



ethanol] with MTBE,” Casper says. He repeated the strategy market-by-market across the country. In the first decade of this century, ethanol quickly took 10 percent of the gasoline market from oil companies. Once they realized it, the oil companies steadfastly tried to constrain the growth of biofuels. The ethanol industry has proven itself in spite of false oil industry claims that corn used for biofuels is taken from the food supply. It survived the Great Recession and an unprecedented run-up in corn prices, and it continues to fend off oil company attempts to roll back the federal Renewable Fuel


Standard. “New information has been getting out that ethanol is a better fuel than many understood,” Casper says. A marketing company, which began with Broin, Casper and seven other people Casper was able to lure from Koch Industries at the onset, has grown to about 150 team members. It has evolved into managing POET Grain, running the corn buying division for POET, as well as marketing carbon dioxide and denaturant. “We operate over 100 tractor trailers and lease more than 2000 rail cars on a continuous basis,” says Broin. Lenders at the time were requiring co-product marketing

proposals, as well. Jeff knew co-products were a critical component of income for the biorefineries, including the high protein livestock feed Dried Distillers Grain with Solubles (DDGS), and later CO2 and corn oil. “As Broin Companies evolved and grew, we had to drive demand for co-products,” says Jeff Broin. “When we saw this challenge, we launched another division.” In the early years, Dakota Commodities was formed to market the DDGS Broin plants were producing on a regional basis, eventually expanding to a nationwide, then worldwide market. The product was

trademarked Dakota Gold and defined and advertised as a premium distillers grain in both color and quality. “Our golden color was better than anyone in the industry and we used that to differentiate and market the product,” he says. A marketing effort that began with two people has grown to 50, Broin says. Today, POET Nutrition sells 9 billion pounds of DDGS and 550 million pounds of corn oil around the world annually. It sends 100 car unit trains to California and Mexico on a regular basis, as well as serving markets in Asia, South America, Africa and the Middle East. A key aspect of developing markets for products like DDGS was research that proved their value. The Dakota Gold Research Association (DGRA) began with one then eventually three fulltime researchers in 2002. Working with university and industry colleagues and funding their research, Broin nutritionists were able to demonstrate Dakota Gold DDGS was a valuable addition to the feed rations of dairy and beef cattle and DGRA opened new major markets in both the swine and poultry industries. Since the start of the company, Jeff Broin understood the value of research and lab work. The dedication to robust research was solidified in the 1990s when Broin enticed Steve Lewis, now POET’s Vice President of Innovation, from DuPont Industrial Biosciences’ Genencor. “He saw we were progressive and willing to make changes to improve the ethanol production process and make it more efficient,” Broin says. “I knew

Steve was the best of the best, and we found a way to bring him on board.” In a very short period of time, “he broke worldwide fermentation records by 30%,” Broin says of Lewis’ impact on the enzyme and yeast technology that drives fermentation of corn starch into ethanol. “Today, we have the most comprehensive research system in the history of ethanol, employing over 60 people while also operating two pilot plants, one for starch-based and one for cellulosic ethanol production.” The Scotland plant, now named POET Research Center, also plays a key role in proving new technologies. “Microbiology can be improved almost infinitely,” says Broin. “We continue to find ways to advance fermentation and many process methodologies on a regular basis. We have also filed dozens of patents.” Broin Companies’ involvement in the ethanol industry was characterized, from its beginning to its evolution into POET today, by its drive for innovation and quality. The company has impacted the world through not only its development of marketing ethanol production technology, but also through ethanol fuel and ethanol co-products. “Creating marketing and research entities was an important piece of the evolution of the business,” Jeff Broin says. “By crafting and advancing these divisions in-house, we were able to control our destiny and drive our companies to a new level of vertical integration in the ethanol industry.”





Renewable Identification Number System What is a RIN?










Each gallon of ethanol

Why track biofuels blending?

Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) The RFS sets the volume of biofuels that must be blended each year. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses RINs to ensure that the RFS is met.

36 Bil


Required to blend a certain volume of biofuels and report those RINs to the EPA. If they blend above their quota they can sell them on the open market to parties in need.



40 Biomass-based Diesel (biodiesel) Other Advanced Biofuels 35

Retailers are not required to blend biofuels.

Cellulosic Biofuels Conventional Biofuels


Since they do not have a RIN quota, any RINs acquired through biofuel blending can then be sold. Biofuels allow retailers to have a better and less expensive fuel for their customers.





Fine: Up to $37,500 per day until the quota is met.



















Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Some refiners choose not to blend enough biofuels and need to acquire RINs on the open market.

RI N Ethanol is created at biorefineries where each gallon is assigned a RIN.


(with a RIN) is sold to refineries and retailers to be blended into fuel.



























RIN Market RI N











for sale!

Parties with RINs above their quota can sell them to others who did not blend enough biofuels.


o Oh n

Better go to the RIN Market.

SUPPLY & DEMAND If refiners blend their biofuels quota there is little demand for the RIN Market and the RIN price is low. If demand goes up so does the RIN price.










GAS PRICE AT THE PUMP RIN prices do not increase the price customers pay to fill their cars at the pump because a refiner purchasing RINs needs to stay competitive with the price of their competitor (who purchased biofuels to blend) across the street. In many cases the lower cost of biofuels results in lower gas prices at the pump, i.e. E85.

Source: The Renewable Identification Number System and U.S. Biofuel Mandates / BIO -03 / Economic Research Service/United States Department of Agriculture

2016 © POET, LLC

farm fresh by Brian Hefty

Multi-Variety Planting… In the Same Field Farmers and agronomists have long known that while one variety of corn or soybeans may be great on one soil type, that same variety may be lousy on another soil type. The problem has always been that when the farmer had two different soil types or soil conditions in the same field, he had no quick and easy way to plant different varieties in the same field, until now. Several companies now have seeding equipment that can allow a farmer to change his variety, as well as his planting population,

automatically as he crosses the field. On our farm, we have a 24-row planter with 2-compartment boxes for each row for corn or soybean planting. We also have a drill with a 2-compartment air cart for soybeans or small grain. Both of these machines can plant two different varieties on the go. This may not pay for everyone, but let me describe a couple of situations where it comes in handy.


Dramatically varying soil types. Let’s say you have a sandy strip that runs through some good, heavy ground. Why not plant a drought-tolerant variety at a low population in the sand and a racehorse number in the good ground?


Dramatically varying soil pH. Thousands of fields in the U.S. have major soil pH issues. In the Midwest, we often find high pH spots (over 7.4) and low pH areas (under 6.3) in the same field. In pH’s over 7.4, iron deficiency chlorosis (IDC) in soybeans is very common. Plants turn yellow due to an inability to utilize soil iron in that high pH. In severe cases, this can cut yields in half or worse. One of the best short-term strategies in high pH ground is to plant an “IDC-tolerant” variety. However, no IDC-tolerant soybean I know of is a topyielder in low pH ground. Why not plant the great IDC bean in high pH soil and plant the normal yield champ in low pH ground?

Every farmer needs to calculate his own return on investment numbers, and with today’s farm economy where it is, I don’t expect immediate adoption of this new technology. However, 10 years from now it will likely be the standard, and it’s another reason why we expect yields to continue to climb for farmers in the U.S. If you want to look at this from an environmental standpoint, it’s also a home run. Anytime a seed variety is planted in an area where it shouldn’t be, we as farmers say, “It’s under more stress.” Whether we’re talking about human beings, livestock or crops, added stress means less productivity, greater chance for disease and overall poor health. In crops, that means a farmer needs more herbicide, more fungicide and more insecticide. It also means more risk for soil erosion, less soil fertility gets used and less oxygen is produced by the plants for our atmosphere. While agriculture has certainly benefited from many different kinds of technology in recent years, new equipment innovations are often overlooked. This multi-variety equipment advancement is something that will help change agriculture in a positive way moving forward.




ETHANOL Clean engines, clean air and clean water. by Steve Lange | photos by Jeff Helmkamp


Robert Champion doesn’t think twice when he fills his 33-foot Ocean Hawk – a high performance offshore powerboat sporting twin Mercury Verado 400R- engine with a 10% ethanol blend. “I’ve taken time to ask questions and get educated about ethanol,” says Champion, a recreational boater who has owned several boats (everything from cabin cruisers to yachts) in his nearly 40 years of boating (everywhere from Michigan to Miami). “I’ve just tried to separate the facts from the myths.” That basic education when it comes to ethanol – taking that time to ask questions and get the fundamental facts – is all Kelly Manning asks for. As the Vice President of Development for Growth Energy, Manning focuses his efforts on educating the general public about ethanol. Manning, though, finds he often spends less time promoting the positives than he does dispelling the negative misconceptions.  “Unfortunately, we have a lot of people out there spreading misinformation,” says Manning, who also manages the day-today operations for the American Ethanol NASCAR program within Growth Energy. “We’ve found that when people are given the real facts, they form their own opinions – positive opinions – about ethanol.” When Growth Energy launched their partnership with NASCAR in 2011, research into NASCAR’s fan base revealed that roughly half of

the group’s fans were supportive of ethanol in their vehicles. Today, that same research shows that number has grown to 80 percent. “When we get a chance to explain our message, folks understand what a great fuel ethanol is, everything from where it is produced, to the jobs it supports, to the potential technical benefits, to the environmental benefits,” says Manning. “People are passionate about their boats, and we want them to make their own decisions once they know the answers to some of those basic questions about ethanol.”

Yes, ethanol is safe for both inboards and outboards, two-stroke and fourstroke motors. Yes, ethanol costs less than gasoline. No, you are not required to use E10.

Yes, marine engines are warrantied for E10, and have been for nearly two decades.

Yes, ethanol is much safer for the environment, especially when it comes to emissions into the water.

No, ethanol companies are not advocating for E15 or E85 in marine engines.

No, this isn’t something new. Virtually all gasoline today contains 10 percent ethanol.

Yes, 95 percent of Americans currently use E10, and most boaters today are using E10, whether they realize it or not.

Keith Holmes has heard the questions, and seen the real-life answers, firsthand. As a certified Mercury Marine Technician and the owner/operator of CK Motorsports in west Michigan, Holmes and his team service 500 or so boats per year. “Is E10 safe to use in boats? Yes, it’s absolutely safe to use in all of today’s marine engines,”



says Holmes, who owns a 1972, 27-foot Magnum Marine sport boat with twin 350 engines. “I’ve always filled up at the pump, and most of my customers have for years as well and never even realized they were burning ethanol.” In his 28 years as a marine technician, Holmes says he hasn’t encountered the types of issues that others blame on ethanol. In fact, he’s seen just the opposite. “As far as the quality of the fuel and what it’s doing, we’ve seen a significant gain in the longevity of marine engines,” says Holmes. “We notice the fuel systems are a lot dryer, we don’t see water like we used to. I’ve been around boats all my life, and I’ve seen what water does to engines. With ethanol, we just don’t see those problems.” Holmes’ other boat, by the way, is the Cat Can Do, a 40-foot Unlimited Extreme offshore powerboat with twin 1,700-horsepower Sterling engines. With 80-plus wins and 13 world and national titles in 24 years of racing, Holmes is one of the nation’s top Offshore Powerboat racers. The Cat Can Do runs 10 or so races per year in the Outdoor Powerboat Association, runs


nearly 200 miles per hour and runs on 90 percent ethanol (one of the highest-performance racing fuels available). In 2015, Holmes partnered

with Ignite Racing Fuels and, eventually, American Ethanol to create what’s now called the Ignite American Ethanol Cat. The team retooled and recalibrated its engines – which ran on 116 octane race fuel and produced 1,500 horsepower – to run on E90, the blend of 90 percent ethanol. “We were instantly seeing about 200 more horsepower and 225 pounds more torque for the engines,” says Holmes. “The E90 gave us better compression, more power, more torque, lower engine temps and

lower fuel costs.” The team won the Outdoor Power Association National and World Championships in 2014 and 2015. “The advantages and the performance we’ve seen from ethanol have been outstanding,” says Holmes. “Normally, these engines would need a rebuild around 400 or 500 hours. The cylinders and valves would be worn out. These engines have already seen 800 hours of racing on them without needing to be rebuilt.” As a longtime recreational boater, Holmes also appreciates the big-picture positives of ethanol, from supporting the American farmer to reducing dependence on foreign oil to, most importantly for him, going green. “When you spend time on the water, you appreciate how important it is to keep these waterways clean,” he says. “Ethanol is a cleaner fuel and that means cleaner engines and cleaner emissions, especially when you’re talking about water. It feels good to know we’re doing our part.” When it comes to promoting the ethanol movement, Holmes realizes that, in the offshore

powerboat circuit, results are the real marketing tool. The back-to-back world and national championships, he says, have helped drive the conversation and the education about ethanol. “Honestly, the important thing for us is that ethanol has given us a winning advantage in the performance world,” says Holmes. “That has opened the doors for us to share our other messages and clear up some of the myths. But in the speedboating world, speed is what matters.” And maybe no one knows more about speed, and ethanol, than Jay Berry. In 2002, when he was just 22, Berry built his first ethanol plant (Central Indiana Ethanol, which produces more than 55 million gallons of ethanol per year). In 2008, he started making racing fuel, E85, for a few friends who raced cars, and they soon realized that Berry’s fuel was better than the E85 they bought elsewhere (due to Berry’s high-

end blend). Today, Berry sells his Ignite Racing Fuel, which is highperformance ethanol, to more than a dozen countries, including Japan, Sweden, Germany and Dubai. “I’ve got the fastest cars in the world, the fastest boats, the fastest motorcycles, the fastest lawnmower ... all running ethanol,” says Berry. “I’ve been scratching, clawing and fighting to get ethanol’s message out. For the first time, it’s popular, it’s sexy.” And while that may be the first time anyone has ever described ethanol as “sexy,” Berry knows that “speed sells.” “It’s all a power game,” he says. “With ethanol, we are gaining 100-plus horsepower over gasoline. Ethanol burns 20 to 30 degrees cooler than gas. On the maintenance side, ethanol burns so clean that there is zero carbon buildup, so guys don’t have to tear their engines down and rebuild them. When we get this kind of performance, it makes it

easier to tell the story of ethanol.” For Berry, that story is as simple as “Clean fuel. Clean engine. Clean air and water.” Especially in the boating world, where fuel emissions make their way directly into the water, Berry stresses that communication is key. He believes that big-picture, environmentally-friendly message will eventually resonate with boaters, who, maybe more than most, value clean water and clean air. Ethanol, after all, is biodegradable, non-toxic and burns much cleaner than gasoline. “This is about the bigger good,” he says, “and right now there is a lot of pushback and misperceptions about ethanol when it comes to boating. If we really want to accomplish that bigger good, we all need to work together – the ethanol people, the boat manufacturers, the engine companies, the recreational boaters.” For the recreational boaters, it all begins when they pull up to



the pump. While many people don’t even realize that they are already filling up with E10, those like Robert Champion believe it’s important to have that choice. “I like knowing I can help the environment, especially when it comes to the water, by choosing E10,” says Champion. “When you really look at the facts, it makes choosing ethanol easy.” When Growth Energy’s Kelly Manning hears those kinds of anecdotes, it just reinforces the fact that ethanol education can help dispel those myths and


misperceptions. Just like the inroads made with those NASCAR fans, Manning believes that, if given the chance, the ethanol industry can enlighten boaters as well. “We just want consumers to have a choice at the pump,” says Manning. “And we believe that if they have a choice and know the facts, they’ll want to choose E10 in their boats. Sure, we want them to choose E10 because it’s good for the American farmer, and good for the environment and good for the country. But

we also want them to choose ethanol because they know it’s good for them and their boat. It all starts right there.”


For years, we’ve been told that cellulosic ethanol is a “fantasy fuel.” And it is.

And now it’s going to change the world. For real.

So we’ve spent a decade planning, researching, and working hard to make that fantasy a reality.



Advanced Biofuels

nascar update submitted by Ryan Welsh, Director of Sales and Marketing for American Ethanol

American Ethanol:

Battling for Choice Austin Dillon, driver of Richard Childress Racing’s #3 Dow/American Ethanol Chevrolet, drove his beaten and battered NASCAR Sprint Cup Series entry down pit road in the closing laps of the Geico 500 calling for four tires, Sunoco Green E15 fuel and to make significant body repairs. “Start making aero repairs to the left front. We got damage,” said crew chief Slugger Labbe directing the team. “And hurry up, we don’t have much time, the motor is running hot!”

The setting is the largest speedway in the NASCAR circuit and the #3 Dow/American Ethanol race team fought with guts and gumption, gaining 14 spots in the last three laps of the 2016 race at Talladega to earn a third-place finish, on a day constantly threatened by a stormy sky. The real storm lay ahead on the track as 35 of the 40 cars were engulfed in wrecks and accidents. The Dow/American Ethanol Chevrolet team scored their best finish in the Sprint Cup Series to-date, surviving four wrecks and 17 pit stops.

RCR’s #3 crew making repairs for a top 3 finish


Similar to the Richard Childress Racing team’s battle at Talladega, the American Ethanol industry is no stranger to combat. During the Civil War, when ethanol was mainly used as a fuel for lamps, a massive tax was placed on alcohol including ethanol to raise money for the North’s war effort. Production of commercial ethanol was all but eliminated due to the subsequently inflated price, but it survived and reemerged after the liquor tax was repealed in 1906. Henry Ford then declared it the “fuel of the future.” During World War I, ethanol use increased rapidly, not only as a fuel but, also in the manufacturing of war materials. Yet once again, after the war, policy interfered with the progress and development of the renewable fuel. Prohibition began in 1920 and ethanol was banned because it was considered to be an alcoholic beverage.

Following Prohibition, American Ethanol was again called into action to meet the needs of World War II, elevating production to 600 million gallons in the United States. American Ethanol went back into battle in the 1970s during the oil and gas crisis, and today the industry has grown to approximately 200 bio-refineries producing 15 billion gallons of clean, green, renewable fuel, along with a bountiful crop of co-products. Even more impressive is the fact that American Ethanol added $44 billion to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product and paid $10 billion in taxes last year. American Ethanol has always answered the call of duty for this country when needed. Many fuel retailers across the country have enlisted American Ethanol and are offering higher blends like E15 as a choice to the consumer, not a requirement, and that is the direction we must proceed in.

The Maire’s believe the consumer should have a choice to purchase ethanol blends like e15.

Tammy Maire, a working mother of three from Cambridge, IA and NASCAR fan, values having a choice to use higher blends of ethanol. “I commute many miles to my job in downtown Des Moines and I choose more ethanol in my gas because I

care about the environment, this choice is for my kids and beyond. If there is anything I can do to help, I’m going to do it. I know which stations on my route carry more American Ethanol like E15 and that is where I go.”



bridging the Corn Yield Gap Innovative farmers prove the U.S. average corn yield of 170 bushels per acre is just a stop on the way to more food, feed, fuel and fiber. by Holly Jessen | photos by Greg Latza




Imagine 500 bushel plus corn yields. David Hula, a corn grower from Charles City, Virginia, doesn’t have to imagine. He set the new corn yield record as one of 18 2015 National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) National Corn Yield Contest winners, with 532.02 bushels per acre grown on no-till or strip-till irrigated land. Valdosta, Georgia, farmer Randy Dowdy had the next highest yield, 486.15 bushels per acre, on irrigated land. The Hula family has a long tradition of entering NCGA corn yield contests, David Hula says. His grandfather was one of the first to break the 100 bushel barrier and his father was one of the early ones to go above 200 bushels. In his years of farming, the Hula family has broken the 300, 400 and 500 yield barriers. In fact, David Hula’s son, Craig, is on the list of winners with a yield of 485.36, just behind Dowdy. Dowdy, on the other hand, is a first generation farmer who first entered the contests due to a competitive spirit. Like David Hula, Dowdy says entering NCGA yield contests has meant both making mistakes and learning new things to apply to increase yields across the farm as a whole. For Hula, winning a NCGA yield contest means managing the crop intensively, starting before it’s even planted. He starts out with good corn genetics and pays special attention to things like seed placement and minimizing soil compaction. Another important step is monitoring carefully for when the plants start to emerge, watching in particular for areas where all the plants


come up within a four hour time frame. Controlling pests and disease as well as an intensive fertilization program are also key, Hula says. Dowdy, who broke the corn yield world record in 2014, with 503.71 bushels per acre on irrigated land, says he learned about additional seed treatments by talking to Hula. In fact, learning more about how to increase corn yields from others is one of the reasons he entered the NCGA contests. Tissue tests, soil tests and spending a lot of time in the field, while corn is growing, are some of the other strategies he uses. “The best thing a farmer can see in his or her field is their shadow,” he says. Unlike contest winners, the

average farmer is cautious and sticks to what he or she knows works, says Dr. Fred Below from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The Professor of Crop Physiology at the university’s Department of Crop Sciences says while growers are well aware of the yields achieved by NCGA contest winners, most dismiss it as something they can’t do. But Below has the research that proves yields can be increased, without going to the extremes that corn contest winners do. Harry Stine, CEO and Founder of Adel, Iowa-based Stine Seeds Co., confirms that, with time, there can and will be significant increases in corn yields. “Corn is a very unique crop with a

very unique potential, he says. “Corn is going to produce more calories per acre and continue to increase compared to other crops.” If the idea of someday doubling current corn yields still seems out of the realm of possibility, Stine says, looking back to the decade of the 1930s puts it into perspective. During that 10-year period, average U.S. corn yield was about 24 bushels per acre. “Today, we are getting seven times that much,” he says, adding that his father, who started farming in the 1930s, would never had believed today’s yields, partially because he couldn’t have guessed that new corn markets, such as ethanol, would develop. “He’d have said, ‘Well, gosh, there’s no way we can use that much corn,’” Stine says.

CLOSING THE YIELD GAP Below considers increasing corn plant density one of the most important factors in raising corn yields. While most farmers today plant corn in 30 inch rows, with 4.6 inch plant-to-plant

spacing, research shows corn can be planted in 20 inch rows with 7 inch plant-to-plant spacing. Stine agrees that there’s room for greater plant density. Viewing corn technology advances through the same lens of the 1930s, he says farmers planted about 7,000 corn plants per acre in that decade. Today, farmers plant somewhere in the mid30,000 to 40,000 plants per acre. Stine Seed, on the other hand, has corn genetics on the market today that can go even higher, with plant densities up to 45,000 to 50,000, with the right spacing, fertility and management practices. In order to increase plant density, Below says farmers will need change fertilization methods, for better plant nutrition. In fact, better fertilization is one of the main strategies of NCGA



contest winners. In contrast, the average corn grower has fertilized in the same way for about 30 years. For example, while most farmers broadcast fertilizer across the field, with banded application, fertilizer is applied 4 to 6 inches deep, directly under the crop row. Stine also points to shorter corn as a factor that can help increase corn yields. In the 1930s corn farmers planted corn in clumps, using horses and without herbicides. “For that situation you needed tall corn,” he says. Today’s 9-, 10- or 11-foot tall corn stalks, planted in rows, aren’t able to capture sunlight in the bottom leaves, meaning those leaves are of less value. Stine Seeds, however, has corn hybrids that are 6 or 7 feet tall, and, although the optimal height isn’t yet known, Stine thinks corn could even be a foot or two shorter. The idea has been met with resistance. “It’s difficult for people to adjust to something they thought was good,” he says.


“Tall corn has always been sexy, to say, ‘I have tall corn.’ Well, that happens to be wrong.”

EXPORT OPPORTUNITIES With corn yield increases in the future, where will all that corn end up? Michael Dwyer, Chief Economist for the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), points to the USDA’s recently released Agricultural Projections to 2025, which show moderate growth for corn exports in the next 10 years. Add that together with corn exports in all forms, meaning meat, ethanol and feed products like distillers grains, the NCGA believes the future looks good. “We think the foreign market is where the action is going to be,” he says. Looking at USDA and USGC projections, foreign demand for grains in all forms is expected to add about 33 million metric tons of demand, or a 35 percent increase, he says. That’s 1.2

billion bushels of new foreign demand for U.S. corn, with commodity corn and ethanol each accounting for 43 percent of the increase, while beef, pork and poultry, in corn equity, and distillers grains and corn gluten feed, account for 16 percent and 10 percent, respectively. “Corn producers have cause for more optimism regarding foreign markets than they have for many years,” he says. With increased demand for meat and, therefore corn to feed livestock, the word’s emerging markets will continue to be the best source of export expansion. However, the hottest markets are now shifting from places like China, India, Southeast Asia and Latin America, where growth was in the past 10 years. The USDA estimates that, in the next 10 years, 70 percent of the global import demand for corn will come from the Middle East and Africa, Dwyer says.







energy for life by Melissa Ellefson, POET Wellness Director

What’s on your mind? Each issue, we answer frequently asked healthrelated questions with practical advice to help incorporate wellness into your everyday life.

Q: My kids are such picky eaters. I have started to eat more healthfully, but my kids? Not so much. Can you help? A: Feeding kids clean and nourishing food in a society of packaged treats, drink boxes, “fruit” snacks and a drive thru at every corner can be hard. Very hard, in fact. Here are a few tips that work. (Get ready, tough love coming!) 1) Let them help When kids are actively involved in the shopping and cooking process, they are much more likely to eat the meals. Cooking has become a lost skill in younger generations. Teach your kids how to make a salad dressing or carefully chop veggies. Let them season the food and taste it as you go. “Taste it and see if it needs more salt.” The skills you teach them in the kitchen now will carry with them for a lifetime.

2) Protect your domain You control what comes into your house. If you don’t want your kiddos to eat it, then avoid bringing it into your home. Avoid spending your hard-earned grocery money on buying products that may harm your kids’ health. 3) Make what they do like and make it often Let’s say that the only healthy thing you can get your kid to eat is chicken and roasted sweet potatoes. This actually happened at my house. I made the same meal over and over and over. The good news? Small kids don’t usually care about repetition. 4) Try not to be a short order cook I encourage you to feed your kids what you are eating. This works even better if you start young. Avoid making separate meals and treat it like there are no other options. “This is what is available to you right now,” end of story. 5) Stay the course Be strong. Things come full circle. Some children are more challenging than others but providing good choice now puts them on a positive direction for their future. When they are older they are going to know how to make healthy eating decisions. 6) Be an agent of change Instead of rewarding our little soccer players with a bottle of high fructose corn syrup & food coloring and a bag of Nutter Butters at the end of their game, how about we try a cheese stick or banana or bag of cold watermelon. They already have a water bottle. And that is what athletes should drink: Water.


Get Active There’s nothing like exercising in the fresh air and sunshine. One of my favorite things to do is jog over to the local middle school track for a workout. This is a quick and challenging interval workout sure to help you get faster and leaner than your regular treadmill workout.

20 Minute Full-body Track Workout • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Jog one lap at medium effort 1 minute pushups Sprint 200 meters (half of the track) 1 minute body weight squats Sprint 200 meters 1 minute pushups Sprint 200 meters 1 minute body weight squats Sprint 200 meters 1 minute pushups Sprint 200 meters 1 minute body weight squats Jog one lap at easy effort Stretch and pat yourself on the back!

Grilled Hawaiian Salad Serves: 4 • Total Time: 8-10 hours marinating and 30 minutes cooking

In the POET Kitchen A weekly Menu Monday recipe is shared with all POET Team Members. Here is the most popular recipe from last quarter.

Chicken and Marinade • 4 boneless, skinless breasts • 1/3 cup honey • 1/3 cup avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil • 1/3 cup finely chopped parsley • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar • 2 teaspoons sea salt and garlic powder • 1 teaspoon each black pepper and red pepper flakes • 1 cup water *Put in a gallon-sized Ziploc or glass dish and refrigerate for at least 6 hours and up to 12. Salad Fixings • 1 red onion, sliced thick and brushed with olive oil • 4 large pineapple spears • 1 cup bacon crumbles *I always make more bacon than I need, so that I have leftovers for salads • 6 cups baby spinach Salad Dressing • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar and honey • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard • 1 teaspoon sea salt • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper *Put in a mason jar and shake Method • Fire up the grill and get your chicken on • Make your dressing • After a few minutes, add the onions and pineapple • Dress your spinach with the dressing





APPLY FOR THE FOLLOWING POSITIONS: Plant Technician // Material Handler // Electrician // Engineering APPLY ONLINE AT POET-DSM.COM



traveling back in time

in Laddonia

In 2013, Anthony Becker delivered a load of corn to POET Biorefining in Laddonia, MO in a 1925 Ford Model-T pickup. Mr. Becker is a 90 year old local farmer from Martinsburg, MO, where he and his two sons are members at the plant in Laddonia. The black Ford was found in a local farm ditch in the late 1960’s. It was pulled from the ditch and restoration began, with all the parts being stored in egg cartons and 5-gallon buckets. The Becker’s acquired the vehicle in 1973 and tinkered with it over the years – the motor finally ran in 1976. Throughout the late 70’s and most of the 90’s Anthony hauled his truck to many car shows – the whole time with a tanker on the back of it. In 2000 it was repainted, and in 2012 they built a new dump bed on the original frame. In March of 2016, Mr. Becker returned after he finished the restoration of the original fuel delivery tank.

STEM Students VISIT POET Biorefining –

Coon Rapids Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) students from the Manning School District visit POET Biorefining – Coon Rapids. The students had the opportunity to tour the plant and learn about the ethanol process. General Manager, Bill Howell also discussed the career opportunities that exist at a biorefinery and how it makes a difference to the local area.






A few of the team members at POET Biorefining – Hanlontown, Dennis Nicholson, Kris Allison and Bruce Moore, volunteered at the community kitchen in Mason City, IA serving meals to people in need. Being POET is so much more than just making ethanol.

4th graders at the Palo Alto fairgrounds POET Biorefining – Emmetsburg team members, Bill Huberty, Justin Kibbie, Alan Keller, Jason Raveling and Marrick Loftus, went to the Palo Alto Fairgrounds in Emmetsburg, IA to visit the 4th graders from three counties. The team members performed experiments with the kids to help show the process of ethanol. The kids put yeast, sugar and warm water into a bottle and put a balloon on top. The balloon expanded with carbon dioxide because of the chemical reaction. Then the kids were shown step by step the stages of corn turning into ethanol with jars full of the material. The kids were very knowledgeable about the ethanol process and its by-products.




Team members at POET Biorefining – North Manchester have adopted a community service project to improve the baseball fields for the Manchester Recreational Association (MRA). The MRA maintains four ball diamonds for the local community use of all ages. The POET team purchased and spread 6 tons (240 bags) of infield conditioner to help dry the field and provide safer play after rain. A group of 15 team members participated in the project. The plant electrician and the plant maintenance team are planning to repair 13 lights that are out of service, to help make night use of the facility safer and more enjoyable.

Š 2015 CenterPoint Energy 144978 800-495-9880

people of Poet

poet leader plays major role in growth

at wichita zoo As board president, Mark DeVries helped to bring six new elephants to Kansas. by Angela Tewalt | photos by Christopher Clark


It’s not very often that you get to tell the story of helping to rescue elephants from Africa, but for Mark DeVries, it was years worth of work, patience and perseverance to get there. Today, that story comes with a happy ending and six new residents at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, KS. “This is a very exciting time,” DeVries says. DeVries is head of the zoo’s board for Wichita’s main attraction, and he has been a big part of significant change over the past few years. But he’s handled the growth well — his career at POET Ethanol Products has helped him to build the endurance. He’s seen a lot of growth there, too. When DeVries was a new employee in 2002, the business was new as well. “I was the 11th or 12th employee,” DeVries recalls. “I was there right when it began.” Time flies, and today, DeVries is the Vice President of Business Development and International Infrastructure and Projects at POET Ethanol Products, an ethanol marketing company in Wichita, KS, that now has over 150 employees. “It’s hard to believe it’s the same business,” DeVries says. “It was very small when I started, but this has been a great time to build a business from the ground floor up. It’s been fun to watch the company grow.”

Busy, too, as he balances two important roles for the Wichita community. But he continues to persevere, and it makes for a great story.

Role with the Zoological Society DeVries has been on the board for the Sedgwick County Zoological Society for 18 years now. He began this endeavor when he was working for Koch

Industries back in 1998. “Koch had a representative on the Zoological Society board who I worked with,” DeVries explains. “He was being relocated, so he asked me to take his spot. And I did!” He’s been with them ever since. Today, DeVries serves as president of the Zoological Society’s Board of Trustees, leading a group of 35 community

members who help to support and operate the zoo. “It’s a very unique kind of arrangement that we have with (Sedgwick) County,” DeVries explains. “The Zoological Society is a nonprofit that operates the zoo. The county owns all the assets, and we both contribute funding to the operation.” DeVries says it’s a harmonious relationship and that neither entity could do it alone. “I think the secret to having the quality of the facility that we do have here is our unique partnership.” The majority of DeVries’ work on the board is “investment discussions,” he says. “I’m not out there feeding the tigers or anything.” Not that he would mind. DeVries speaks highly of Sedgwick County Zoo, which has brought in over 654,000 guests a year. “We are one of the top zoos in the country, which is really exciting because we are a relatively small city to have this quality zoo,” he says. “The community loves it.” Sedgwick County Zoo has been serving the Wichita, KS, community for over 30 years now and is home to 3,000 animals of nearly 400 species. It’s truly a delightful adventure with exhibits that replicate the natural habitats of the animals, DeVries says. “We’ve got world-class new exhibits across the board. Our variety of animal species includes lions, gorillas, penguins, tigers and now elephants,” he says.



“It’s all very much a world-class experience, and we are very proud of it as a community asset.”

Changes, improvements at the Sedgwick County Zoo The elephants arrived in Kansas in March on a Boeing 747. DeVries was there the day they landed, and he said it was a very exciting moment. “This was a culmination of five years of intense efforts and planning and work to get them here,” he says. To say the least. DeVries says work began years ago when the zoo wanted to improve its elephant exhibit. During this time, there was also a change in regulations from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Sedgwick


County Zoo is an AZA-accredited park and needed to abide by new guidelines. “The new guideline required us to have three or more elephants,” DeVries explains. “We only had two.” Their names were Stephanie and Cinda. DeVries says both elephants were older, “some of the oldest in the country,” and it wasn’t long before Cinda died. That left Stephanie alone. So, to avoid sending her to another home, the Sedgwick County Zoo began campaigning for a new exhibit that could accommodate more elephants. It worked. DeVries says a fundraiser for the construction of the new facility raised over $10 million, and the exhibit was completed last year. But that was only half the battle. Stephanie needed fellow residents to join her, and so the search began on how to bring in new companions. They found them in Swaziland, DeVries says, a small monarchy in southeast Africa between South Africa and Mozambique. “Through a lot of work with the Dallas and Omaha zoos, we were able to put a permit together to import five or six elephants for each zoo,” DeVries says. “We brought a total of 17 elephants from Swaziland, to have in each of our three zoos.” It was a long, intense process, DeVries says, but not only did it bring six elephants to Sedgwick County, it was a successful rescue mission. Without zoo directors stepping in, those 17 elephants

would not have survived. “These elephants were unfortunately slated to be culled,” DeVries says, which is a process that reduces a wild animal population by selective slaughter. “Unlike many other African areas where poaching is a huge problem, Swaziland has in fact too many elephants,” DeVries explains. “Because of drought conditions they have there, they have to essentially manage the elephant herd population.” DeVries says if those 17 elephants hadn’t been rescued within a month, they would’ve been euthanized. “It’s a tragic situation,” says DeVries. “In many parts of Africa, elephants are being poached and killed at the rate of nearly 100 a day. But Swaziland is very good about protecting their elephants. There is a need to remove some of them, and we were able to step in. “We’re excited to have them here.”

Meet the new elephants! The six new residents of Sedgwick County Zoo are setting in well. “Everything is going great!” DeVries says. “They’ve spent a lot of time together and are getting acclimated to their new settings.” Speaking of their new home, it’s officially called the Elephants of the Zambezi River Valley and is the third largest elephant exhibit in the country, says Melissa

Graham, public relations and marketing manager at Sedgwick County Zoo. Their outdoor space spans over 5 acres, and they have 18,000 square feet of indoor space as well. They can roam from four different yards that feature waterfalls, a wading pool and rich vegetation. The exhibit opened to the public over Memorial Day weekend. “We are so excited to finally be at this moment,” Graham says. “The community has been so supportive of this project, and we can hardly wait to share the experience and these majestic elephants with everyone.” DeVries is excited, too. “This project was a big one,” he says. “We have a fantastic new exhibit, and the elephants seem super happy here.” DeVries says this zoo project had a lot in common with his business development activities at POET Ethanol Products. “This is not dissimilar to a long-term project, where you have to stay engaged and persistent. You got to stay with it.” Even though he says it’s been a challenge at times to juggle so much positive growth for both his work at POET Ethanol Products and at the zoo, his patience and efficient work ethic has paid off, and the Sedgwick County community will benefit from that. “I enjoy both roles,” he says, “so I find the time to do it all.”



A Father’s Impact

Lessons from the farm continue to shape POET today. The phrase “family farm” feels redundant. There is no farm without the family. They work together, play together, eat, rest and pray together. It’s not a business; it’s a way of life. Growing up on a farm near Wanamingo, Minn., I worked side-

by-side with my father, Lowell Broin. He was my first role model, and his lessons shaped my life personally and professionally. What I’ve gained, I hope to pass on to others as well – as a father to my own children and as the owner of a business to everyone

I work with. Lessons from the farm hold true in every aspect of life. In light of celebrating Father’s Day in June, I’d like to share some of those lessons with you, as they are the very spirit of this more than 1,900 team memberstrong company.

You have to invest money to make money When I was 15, I showed purebred Yorkshires at the Minnesota State Fair in both the FFA and open class divisions. After placing near the bottom one year, Dad could tell I was upset. He gave me some advice. “If you want to place near the top, you need to buy the Grand Champion boar and breed for next year’s winners.” So that’s exactly what we did. Dad loaned me $1,000, and the next year I placed in the top five with all of my entries. I paid my father back and paid for half of my college education with the money I made from that investment. That lesson has also guided my professional life. When POET was in its infancy, with just a couple dozen team members, I had the opportunity to hire an amazing scientist, Steve Lewis, to help take our company to the next level.


I knew we could barely afford to do it. But I also knew we couldn’t afford to not do it. We hired Steve, and thanks to him POET has pioneered dozens of process improvements and step changes in technology including our high gravity fermentation and our patented BPX raw starch hydrolysis process. Just like that investment at the Minnesota State Fair, investing in Steve has paid dividends for this company many times over.

stainless steel items from shutdown creameries, all at a fraction of the price. A building I rented on Main Street in Scotland, SD used to be filled with used parts we’d bought from all over the country. We weren’t always sure if or when we’d need a piece of equipment, but if we saw a good deal, we took it. In the long run, it saved us a significant amount of money. Without those low equipment costs, POET would not have

Focus on high quality/low cost I think Dad was addicted to auctions. He would go to every auction he could find, in sunshine, rain or snow. But he rarely purchased anything. He was adamant that through patience and tenacity, the right deal would come along at the right time. And it always did. I remember him coming home with a slightly used combine he had bought for less than half the price of a new combine. It had been a bitterly cold day and a sparsely attended auction, and he’d gotten one heck of a deal by simply making sure he was in the right place at the right time. In the same way, POET’s first ethanol plants were built from high-quality used parts. We travelled to auctions at ethanol plants and creameries. We’d get a distillation system from New Orleans, tanks and pipes from a bankrupt plant in Wisconsin and

survived the early years and would never have become the company it is today.

Good land should be put to good use

payments and storage payments with no end to oversupply in sight. That really stuck in his craw, so he got to work figuring out a way to put his crops to good use. And so our small farm-scale ethanol plant was born. He never imagined that his effort would impact agriculture at the scale POET does today. We purchase 600 million bushels of corn each year and turn it into ethanol, high-protein animal feed and other valuable products. Our roots in agriculture are a guiding force for POET. The spirit of the family farm is at the core of what we do here. We strive to be highly ethical and moral, to do the right thing in every situation. We treat others with respect and dignity even if they don’t always do the same in return. Most importantly we strive every day to leave the world a better place than we found it. All of these things that have made POET successful I learned on that farm in southeast Minnesota. I’m proud to carry my father’s lessons with me throughout my life. To him and to every other father out there doing the same, be proud that you have taught your children many lessons they put into practice every day.

My family got into the ethanol business based on the idea that we need value-added agriculture. My father saw our great Minnesota cropland laying idle, and the government was paying him to leave it that way. In addition there were deficiency




Across 1. Contract points 6. Beauty spot 10. Price 14. Nose dive 15. Out of town 16. ___ -knock agent 17. Pasta 18. Transfer 19. Soft bread 20. Measure of a fuel’s ability to

avoid knock

23. Made with more yolks 25. “Listen!” 26. Electrical flows 28. Corn on the ___ 29. Region 30. Spouse 32. Understood, as a joke 35. Frost lines 36. Ethanol and others 37. Cagey 38. NYC clock setting 39. Lost, French version


27. Fancy leather

40. Words with “date” and “record” 41. The A in IPA

1. Cooking abbr.

31. Good natured frankness

42. “The blend wall” threshold

2. Ram’s mate

32. Environmentally friendly

45. Measure of a company’s fleet in

3. A Presidential nickname

33. Combo of eight

terms of fuel economy, abbr.

28. Truckers’ radios, abbr.

4. Decorative lettering

34. Comparison connector

47. Show off

5. Coins

36. Retainer

48. Tediously protracted

6. WW II general

37. In a shrewd manner

52. Egyptian symbol

7. Wilson of ‘’Wedding Crashers’’

39. Entered not guilty for example

53. Pine (for)

8. Put on

41. Thick, comfy throw

54. Reddish wood

9. Looker

43. UN workers’ gp.

58. Sail constellation

10. Cambridge alum word

44. Bathroom tap

59. The Beatles’ “___ Leaving Home”

11. Top of the world

45. Funnel-shaped

60. Leave out

12. Emitted an offensive odor

46. Foot part

61. Near Eastern port

13. Sound made by cut glass

48. Volcano output

62. Needle holes

21. Highest rating score, often

49. Demolish

63. Proofers’ catches

22. Hail another ship

50. Hurting

23. Continental money

51. Cry of glee

24. Comprehensive modelling tool

55. Turn down

of lifecycle emissions

56. Big deal

26. Batman’s apparel

57. High-__ monitor

for answers, visit



To receive free information about products or services advertised or listed in this issue, please contact advertisers via their Web address below.


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15 BBI


CenterPoint Energy


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Growth Energy




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3 Novozymes


33,44 POET-DSM


POET Nutrition


out of left field by Scott Johnson, Data Systems Administrator, POET

Austin Powers once requested, “Allow myself to introduce…myself.” With that in mind, my name is Scott Johnson and I’ll be sharing some of my thoughts in this and upcoming Vital issues. I’ve been blessed to be a POET employee since 2002. I have a lovely wife, 3 darling children, 2 dogs that could be mistaken for squirrels, 10,000 hobbies and 0 talents. I’m not a Vice President of anything. I’m not the Senior Director of anyone. I’m a Data Systems Administrator. I have the kind of job title CIA operatives make up when asked what they do for a living. It’s the kind of job title when you tell it to people, there are no follow up questions because further explanation would likely be too confusing and boring to tolerate. (Stranger: “What do you do?” Me: “I’m a Data Systems Administrator.” Stranger: “Oh. That’s nice.”) Many job titles have a suffix at the end to indicate level of prestige (MD, DDS, CPA.) My job title could very well end with a zzz. Basically, my job is to write programs to collect data from our network of POET plants. Then write more programs to spit out the data in pretty ways for engineers and scientists. I don’t even necessarily know what the data means – I just give it to other people much smarter than me to dissect. I spend a lot of time in spreadsheets. I mean a LOT of time. I’m a curator of 1s and 0s. To many, my job sounds mind-numbingly boring.’s not. Believe it or not, it’s downright fun! What qualifies a Data Systems Administrator to write a column in this particular publication? I asked myself...and the VITAL staff the same question. Perhaps my legendary annual Christmas letter encouraged them to consider me for the role. After all, that readership is well into the 10s of people spreading far and wide across southeastern South Dakota. I also wrote a witty Facebook post back in 2013 that received 42 likes and 1 “share” (thanks, Mom). Admittedly, I have no qualifications as a writer. What insights could I possibly offer? Well, I’m really good at finding fun. I realize that may not sound like an actual skill, but I believe otherwise. Fun doesn’t always come to you – sometimes you have to go get it! Having fun 56 vital || THE ESSENTIAL PERSPECTIVE

requires active participation. In my own life, I’ve discovered it is more fun making eggs benedict in my kitchen than ordering an Egg McMuffin in the drive through. Shooting a 3-pointer is more fun than watching the NBA guys from my couch. And telling jokes into a mic at a sparsely-populated dive bar on a random Tuesday night is much more fun than heckling from the crowd. My hollandaise sauce is clumpy, I air-ball most my 3s and I’ve bombed as a stand-up comic (even by open-mic night standards.) Despite my failures, I’ve experienced life-changing fun attempting each. I feel that same attitude of fun-seeking can, and should be applied to work. To be clear, I’m not talking about fun INSTEAD of work. I’m not advocating fun IN SPITE of work. I’m referring to fun AT work. Fun WHILE working. Fun DOING work. Fun and work do not have to be mutually exclusive. I’m not suggesting one should drop everything in the middle of a busy day to participate in a companywide bean bag tournament (oh wait, we actually did that). Fun can be injected into our everyday, otherwise mundane tasks. If I can have fun being buried in virtual mountain of spreadsheets...well then I believe fun can be found anywhere. Don’t wait until after the work day to enjoy life. Next time you’re shoveling wet cake, pretend you’re in a giant Cracker Jack box, searching for a temporary tattoo. When facing a marathon day of planting corn, break out those Captain America Underoos – secretly telling the world, “Darn it, I’m going to have fun today.” (Yes, they make those for adults). Greet your officemates with a different version of “Good Morning” every day until you run out of languages. Then create a new language. Then start over, but sing the greetings. Your coworkers might eventually ask for a different seating arrangement, but they will hopefully have learned an important lesson: fun is serious business. Jeff Broin often talks about having a passion for your work. To have an enduring career in our industry, you need to have fire and a desire to change the world. If you have that kind of passion for your job, fun will undoubtedly follow. Find the passion. Find the fun. With any luck, it might be contagious. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about. After all, I am a Data Systems Administrator Sr. Vice President of Fun.




4615 N. Lewis Ave. Sioux Falls, SD 57104

F U E L IN G P EO P L E . F U E L IN G C A R S .


A NE W W ORL D DEM A ND S NE W HOL L A ND. There’s a new world out there and it demands more from all of us. More innovation from equipment manufacturers. More ingenuity from ethanol producers. More partnerships— like the one between New Holland and Growth Energy—that strive to increase our country’s energy independence and support rural economies. To stay ahead of tomorrow’s energy needs, we need to be equipped for them today. New Holland and Growth Energy are working with you to help secure our energy future. Learn more at


©2016 CNH Industrial America LLC. All rights reserved. “New Holland” is a trademark registered in the United States and many other countries, owned by or licensed to CNH Industrial N.V., its subsidiaries or affiliates. “Equipped For A New World” is a trademark in the United States and many other countries, owned by or licensed to CNH Industrial N.V., its subsidiaries or affiliates.

Vital Magazine - Summer 2016  
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