Two more ethanol plants idled amid coronavirus pandemic
Ethanol production will cease at two more plants amid the COVID-19 pandemic. ADM announced facilities in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Columbus, Nebraska, will temorarily be idled. Several other plants in the region have slowed or stopped production.
“This was the third week in a row that ethanol production hit a record-breaking low, even as stockpiles hit a new record-breaking high,” says Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “The evaporation of fuel demand due to COVID-19 has been a knock-out blow to biofuel plants across the heartland, who were already fighting an uphill battle against trade barriers, regulatory threats, and a flood of foreign oil.”
Each location will furlough approximately 90 employees in the coming weeks. The furlogh is anticipated to last four months, but subject to change based on market conditions ADM says in a statement.
“Ethanol producers represent the heart of the rural economy, and when they are forced offline, the ripple effect can be felt across the agricultural supply chain – from farmers without a market for their crops to meatpackers and ranchers who rely on local ethanol plants for animal feed and carbon dioxide,” says Skor.
“These are very difficult decisions in a very challenging time, and unfortunately, the current market conditions and the low consumer demand for gasoline at this time have greatly impacted the entire ethanol industry,” says Chris Cuddy of ADM. “Our primary focus is the respect and care of our employees during this time, and we are doing everything we can to support them until market conditions improve and we can look at ways to restart production.”
“While a great deal of uncertainty still remains, we will continue to work with our state and congressional champions who are working to secure immediate relief that will keep this highly-skilled workforce intact so we will be ready to bounce back and fuel rural America’s economic recovery,” Skor says. “With plans to support the oil and gas industry already underway, it’s vital that policymakers give the same consideration to biofuel workers and farmers equally impacted by disruptions to the motor fuel market.”
In a statement Growth Energy urged policymakers to act swiftly.