Oct. 13, 2020
American farmers are arguably the backbone of our economy. But with record-low prices and ever-increasing carryovers, how are grain farmers supposed to make it, much less thrive? The answer is simple. Biofuels are the catalyst to successful agriculture. With successful agriculture, we can solve many of the world’s toughest challenges like climate change, poverty, hunger and disease. Reversing the climate crisis Farmers are the key to reversing the climate crisis and, at the same time, have the ability to dramatically improve their operation. By incorporating a few existing technologies and practices, agriculture in the U.S. today has an enormous potential to become a carbon sink. POET is working to financially incentivize producers who lower the carbon intensity (CI) of their grain through the Gradable™ program . Many farmers are already utilizing these strategies, and now have the opportunity to be rewarded for Earth-friendly practices. Launched by FBN® in September, Gradable is an integrated platform which measures and scores conservation efforts focused on carbon abatement strategies. This allows farmers to see the impacts of incorporating sustainable farming practices and the data to make relevant economic decisions while also working to solve climate change. Addressing rising carryouts For generations, yields have outpaced demand for grains. This demonstrates successful innovation within the farm community, but it has led to overproduction. In turn, grain values have continued to fall below the cost of production. Without growing domestic markets for increasing corn yields, the U.S. will continue to flood the global market with cheap corn. Cheap grain does not equate to more abundant, affordable food. Just the opposite. When markets are flooded with surplus crops that are sold below the cost of production due to farm subsidies, it depresses world prices. Boosting the domestic market Farmers need to be able to run a successful operation, and to do so, they need strong markets. At POET, we’re working on getting higher blends of ethanol into the marketplace so that our industry can grow right along with increasing yields. Currently, the biofuels industry purchases around 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop, producing clean, affordable fuel, nutritious feed for livestock and many other critical products. This is a critical market for grain, and it needs to expand with ever-increasing yields to balance the market. If the U.S. increased ethanol in the fuel supply from 10 percent to 15 percent nationwide, it would result in a market of almost 2 billion bushels of additional corn demand for the American farmer. This would provide the economic incentive to encourage farmers to employ the latest practices that will help heal the world. Farmers need a higher portion of the gas tank to remain successful. We need your help To bolster the domestic market for grain, we need consumers to understand the environmental, economic and health benefits of fueling their vehicles with biofuels. Share this article and learn more about how biofuels are the key to successful agriculture, and successful agriculture can change the world at poet.com/ag . The views expressed in this article are the author's alone and not those of Farmer's Business Network, Inc., its affiliates or members. © 2015-2020 Farmer’s Business Network, Inc. All rights reserved. The sprout logo, “Farmers Business Network,” “FBN,” and “Farmers First” are registered service marks of Farmer’s Business Network, Inc. or its affiliates and are used with permission. Copyright ©2020 Gradable. All rights reserved. “Gradable” and the Gradable logo are registered trademarks of Gradable.
May 08, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing pain for every part of society. Beyond just a health crisis, the virus has upended almost every aspect of our lives. For most Americans, daily life today is much different than it was even a few short months ago. Some may have faced health challenges, some may have faced economic challenges, and all of us are feeling more isolated as social distancing measures are implemented to stop the disease. But even before COVID-19 spread across the country, many farmers faced challenging times due to the already depressed farm economy, low commodity prices and unpredictable weather. Recently, POET partnered with Farmers Business Network℠ to host experts from South Dakota State University (SDSU) for a webinar to provide strategies and coping mechanisms for individuals in agriculture facing stressful situations or circumstances. The workshop was presented by Dr. Krista Ehlert and Adele Harty with the SDSU Extension Rural Behavioral Health Team. Here are three steps toward reducing the impacts of stress that Ehlert and Harty shared during the live webinar: Step 1: Identifying Stress Stress can manifest itself with physical symptoms including headaches, nausea, high blood pressure, backaches or upset stomach. Mental symptoms can include anxiety, hopelessness, anger or depression. Changes in behavior or actions can cause individuals to sleep too little or too much, under eat or over eat, abuse substances like drugs or alcohol, lash out or become withdrawn. Cortisol, a hormone released by the body when an individual is under stress, can have several negative health consequences when present in the body for an extended period. Cortisol also makes it difficult for individuals under stress to see situations clearly and process their emotions. Step 2: Managing Stress Because of this, Ehlert and Harty outlined three tools to utilize when a stressful situation arises even if they’re in the fog of stress. Self-Talk The first is to use self-talk. According to Ehlert “the body hears what the mind thinks. So choose your thoughts on purpose. It's being able to tell yourself that you can overcome any challenge.” Ehlert encouraged participants to choose words to repeat when in a stressful situation in order to control thoughts and manage the mental and physical symptoms of stress. One word Ehlert mentioned was “calm”. Repeating the word calm to yourself when you’re experiencing stress may help to keep your mind focused on the objective of managing emotions. Breath The second strategy is to use your breath. “When faced with a challenge, first use your breath. Deep breathing calms the mind and can help you focus. It can also help reduce chronic pain and improve sleep,” said Ehlert. Deep breathing helps to alleviate the physical symptoms of stress which in turn allows you to focus on managing the mental symptoms. Acceptance The third strategy is acceptance. Ehlert explains “if you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change the way you think about it.” Managing the way you react to a situation can help you manage it better. A common stressor for many farmers is unpredictable weather. Unfortunately, none of us have control over whether or not this growing season will be too wet or too dry. However, you can control how you react to the situation. “We can't change the weather. But what you do have control over is accepting the fact that you have no control,” says Ehlert. She says that this acceptance can help you choose your attitude and reaction which can then lead to lower stress levels because these are things you can manage, unlike the weather or commodity prices, for example. Step 3: Offer Help If you’re worried about someone in your life who may be struggling with stress, Harty explains that it is critical you intervene in order to prevent the worst possible outcome. If you see signs of distress such as changes in relationships or behavior, outbursts of crying or anger or substance abuse it’s important to confront the person directly. Harty explains, “In most situations, they are going to be very appreciative that you have taken the time and have recognized that something isn't right, and that you want to do what you can to help.” Being able to effectively manage stress during these uncertain times will help each of us prepare for challenges and struggles. We are confident life will return to normal once again but it’s important that we weather this storm together. Learn more about POET's leadership in the biofuels industry and within rural communities Want to know more? You can subscribe to Vital, a free resource published by POET, to get additional biofuels news and ag industry content delivered to your doorstep or inbox. The views expressed in this article are the author's alone and not those of Farmer's Business Network, Inc., its affiliates or members.
Dec. 31, 2019
Earlier this month at Farmer2Farmer V , POET Founder and CEO Jeff Broin presented alongside Farmers Business Network℠ CEO Amol Deshpande during a well-attended breakout session on agriculture and the climate revolution. Time constraints prevented them from addressing each and every audience question, so we figured we’d share responses to some of the top questions and concerns we heard in Omaha. POET Founder and CEO Jeff Broin presents alongside FBN CEO Amol Deshpande during "Agriculture's Critical Role in the Climate Revolution," a Lunch & Learn breakout session during Farmer2Farmer V in Omaha. Sustainability has become a critical issue for everyone, especially for those working in agriculture. How are farmers rewarded for adopting regenerative agriculture practices that can reduce and offset CO2 emissions, support the water cycle, etc.? The truth is this is still a work in progress. Farmers have historically been at the front lines as stewards of one of our most precious resources—the land. As Big Oil grew and took away our use of renewable products, farmers were put in a difficult position and developed a bad reputation. The oil industry spends billions of dollars each year perpetuating these false narratives. We need to work together to turn around this perception, which will position farmers to be rewarded for their hard work toward sustainability. Many of the rewards for farmers to practice sustainable agriculture come from their desire to leave the world a better place. We work with countless generational producers who have a desire to leave the soil and water in better shape for their children and grandchildren. While there are also some federal, state and local policies which provide incentives to farmers for practicing sustainable agriculture, there is certainly more that can be done. You acknowledged that agriculture is not the problem—we are the solution. How do we change the mindset so people recognize what we’re doing and what our potential is? What can we do to better align all our efforts around climate solutions? We need to work together across many industries with the same voice and same messaging. Associations like Growth Energy and U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance are doing important work carrying our messages to policymakers, the media and the general public. Consider joining an organization, sharing your message on social media, donating to a Political Action Committee (PAC), reaching out to your elected officials and correcting any misinformation you may see or hear. To learn more about POET’s PAC, visit poetpac.com . Learn more about Growth Energy’s PAC at growthenergy.org/membership/growth-energy-pac . How can POET and other organizations realistically fight to reduce our dependence on oil when the oil industry controls so much money within our economy? What can we really do to effect change and bring market dependency back to agriculture? This is an important effort that takes lots of time, attention and financial resources. POET has team members dedicated to fighting this effort every day, and we’ve made progress over the years, including the approval of year-round E15 nationally earlier this summer and the approval of sales in NY state this fall. We are focused on telling our story to key audiences and engaging in the political process through direct meetings with the administration and Congress, but we need your help telling your story and financing the PACs that make this work possible. Government subsidies and “mandates” are two reasons the general public—including some farmers—are not on board with renewable fuels. But how big of a role do subsidies and mandates actually play in the profitability of renewables in general and, more specifically, ethanol? This is a common misconception about the biofuels industry and we need your help setting the record straight. Today, the grain-based ethanol industry receives zero federal subsidies. This is one of the reasons we’re a threat to the status quo. Meanwhile the oil industry gets billions in subsidies every year. If we can create a truly free market in the fuel industry, ethanol will win out over oil because we’re affordable, environmentally friendly and American-made. The United States is already ahead of many other countries when it comes to supporting a clean environment. How are we going to lead in a way that helps change the rest of the world? We need to be leaders in addressing climate change through sustainable agriculture and promote the impact that is achievable if we work together toward common goals. By sharing industry best practices globally, we can expedite needed changes that will help advance our climate goals. The U.S. has led and will continue to lead the way in agricultural practices, but with that comes the responsibility to help lift our peers across the globe. POET was recently part of a delegation representing biofuels and American farmers at the UN Climate Change Conference. The delegation used the opportunity to speak to the power of biofuels and agriculture as a solution to the climate crisis to countries around the world. In addition, POET’s nonprofit organization, Seeds of Change, works to provide education, increase the use of renewables and empower communities throughout the world. How can we get other farmers to use E15? Just as important, how can we get retailers to sell E15? Use higher blends of ethanol at the pump whenever possible and encourage your friends and family to do so as well! Ask your retailers for more ethanol and spread the word to use the fuels. Auto manufacturers will deliver the cars if consumers demand them and retailers will deliver the fuel if consumers demand them. Always be on the lookout for misconceptions and help correct the record when you run into misinformation. Learn more about POET's leadership in the biofuels industry Want to know more? You can subscribe to Vital, a free resource published by POET, to get additional biofuels news and ag industry content delivered to your doorstep or inbox. The views expressed in this article are the author's alone and not those of Farmer's Business Network, Inc., its affiliates or members.
Nov. 27, 2019
Farmers are true stewards of the land. As a farmer in Radcliff, Iowa, Brett Handsaker implements sustainability practices like using manure management plans on his family’s farm. “We have to take care of the land so the land will take good care of us,” Handsaker says. Handsaker delivers grain to one of POET’s bioprocessing plants in nearby Jewell, Iowa, and feels a commonality with POET because of a shared mission. The Handsakers implement sustainability practices on the family’s farm in Radcliff, Iowa. POET , the world’s top producer of biofuels, is built on similar values of stewarding the earth and its resources. Biofuels producers are building a more sustainable future for generations to come through the creation of biofuels like ethanol and bioproducts that displace products derived from petroleum. Biofuels play a critical role in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and in addressing one of the most challenging issues of our time—climate change. Lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions Ethanol uses corn in its production to help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by up to 110 million metric tons, the equivalent of taking 20 million vehicles off the road each year. Biofuel from starch has 43 percent lower GHG emissions than traditional gasoline. When combined with innovations in feedstocks and technologies, that number reaches as high as 95 percent. Innovative Co-Products Since the company’s origins in 1987, POET has continued to find and implement cost-effective ways to use every ounce from every bushel of corn. The starch is used to produce ethanol, and POET uses the remaining co-products—protein, fat and fiber—from the corn kernel to produce bioproducts such as the following: JIVE By using a greener asphalt rejuvenation product, like POET’s JIVE, asphalt manufacturers can use more recycled asphalt, offering them a more environmentally friendly and lower-cost alternative. Food and Feed Biofuels producers use the leftover solids from the ethanol production process to create products varying from syrups to nutrient-dense animal feed. Environmental Stewardship Practices Developing efficient, sustainable practices is a priority for agriculture and biofuels alike. Technological developments over the years have led to new, innovative practices that allow us to be good stewards of the land. New initiatives have allowed POET to cut its energy use by 30 percent since 2001 and by 50 percent since 1988. POET bioprocessing facilities implement four environmental stewardship practices: Combined Heat and Power By using a steam turbine to generate electricity and recovering waste energy from the turbine to meet other energy demands, POET reduces greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on electrical energy. BPX Technology POET’s patented plant-wide process converts starch to sugar with enzymes instead of heat. The process reduces energy use in each plant by 8 to 15 percent, which translates to less natural gas consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon Capture POET captures the carbon dioxide that is a byproduct of the ethanol production process and liquifies it for transportation to market instead of releasing it into the atmosphere. Total Water Recovery POET recycles water used in the plant instead of discarding it, allowing POET plants to require on average less than 2.5 gallons of water per gallon of ethanol. Similar to biofuels, many farmers are committed to sustainability. As you plan ahead, consider additional ways to steward the natural systems and resources your farm relies on. To learn more about POET's commitment to sustainability, visit www.poet.com . Connect with POET at Farmer2Farmer V Heading to Omaha for Farmer2Farmer V on December 11-13? Attend the POET-sponsored lunch-and-learn session on Thursday, December 12, to see ways your operation can work alongside POET for a more sustainable future. The views expressed in this article are the author's alone and not those of Farmer's Business Network, Inc., its affiliates or members.
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. To learn more, visit poet.com .