Guest Post: Biofuels Leader POET Is Playing a Bigger Role in Growing Rural Farming Communities


Sep 10, 2019

If you’re in agriculture, you know a thing or two about biofuels. Throughout the 2000s, the biofuels industry drove the largest boom in value-added agriculture in memory, and today is responsible for more than one-third of the corn purchases in the United States. The industry has created new wealth in rural America, while replacing dirty oil imports with a clean, farm-grown alternative.

Within that revolution, POET has emerged as a proud champion for rural farming families and businesses, and has become the largest biofuel producer in the world. Today, the POET network includes more than 2 billion gallons of annual capacity from 28 facilities across the Midwest.

Lending a helping, neighborly hand

POET operates in communities spanning seven states (Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and South Dakota).

Within those communities, an average POET facility:

  • Creates 40 local jobs

  • Generates $1.8 million in annual payroll

  • Purchases 21 million bushels of corn

  • Provides millions of dollars in secondary benefits by driving revenue for local businesses

In many communities, POET is not only one of the largest businesses, but also the most dramatic driver of new jobs and economic opportunity for areas feeling the effects of urban migration.

POET plants are also active in improving their communities through partnerships and charity work. POET's “Never Satisfied” effort is a scholarship and grant program that helps passionate people reach their goals to help change the world. POET has awarded 50 Never Satisfied grants in the first two years of the program. Over the past three years, the Never Satisfied scholarship program has awarded 27 scholarships of $5,000 each to ambitious students across the U.S. who are determined to change the world.

POET’s “Never Satisfied” effort is a scholarship and grant program that helps passionate people reach their goals to help change the world. POET Biorefining–Shelbyville in Shelbyville, Indiana, has awarded “Never Satisfied” grants to groups to provide new or expanded resources for youth and families in the county. One recipient is the Southwestern Elementary PTO for their Fitness Playground Project to rehabilitate an outdoor playground with new equipment that promotes wellness and creativity. 

Creating markets for local farm goods

POET purchases approximately 5 percent of the U.S. corn crop each year. Those purchases are primarily local, from more than 30,000 farmers with whom they have developed relationships.

According to Dean Watson, President of POET Grain, POET plants work hard to create a positive experience by cutting wait times and focusing on customer service.

“Our goal is to create the most value for farmers based on service and price,” he said.

By creating new markets and local competition for grain, POET improves grain prices, lowers transportation costs and expands biofuels options for all farmers.

Improving health and the environment in rural communities

Today, 97 percent of the gasoline sold in the U.S. includes 10 percent biofuel, and new opportunities for E15 mean clean, homegrown fuel use is only going to grow. Biofuel producers like POET and the farmers who supply their grain are driving improvements in our health and environment.

The positive effects of biofuels include

  • A reduction in carbon emissions

  • A reduction in tailpipe emissions

  • A decrease or elimination of toxic and even cancer-causing chemicals in gasoline such as benzene, xylene and carbon monoxide

  • Lower ozone levels

It’s clear biofuels are a win for farmers, rural communities, our environment and the air we breathe, and there are opportunities to do even more. POET will continue to be a partner and leader in agriculture to expand the role of biofuels and the farmers who support it in improving our world.

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Sep 10, 2019