Delegation from North Dakota promotes US ethanol in Brazil

By Matt Thompson | September 27, 2019

A delegation from North Dakota recently traveled to Brazil with the hopes of exporting some of the ethanol produced in the state to the South American country.

Deana Wiese, executive director of the North Dakota Ethanol Council, said the group—which included North Dakota Ag Commissioner Doug Goehring, as well as representatives from Midwestern Ag Energy Group and Retail Energy—“received numerous briefings on both the political and economic climate surrounding Brazil’s ethanol industry.” She added the trip also included meetings with 12 Brazilian companies, as well as tours of a port and tank terminal in Recife, a city in northern Brazil.

Wiese said the mission, which took place in early August, “went well.” She added that while Brazil is working to increase it’s domestic ethanol production, using both corn and sugarcane as feedstocks, “but there will be a gap for a time period while they can get that infrastructure built up. We would like to see North Dakota ethanol fill that gap.”

The northeastern region of the country provides the most opportunities for imports, Wiese said. “Due to their domestic infrastructure constraints, it’s more economical to import ethanol into that region than for it to be provided by the central south region,” she said, adding that many of the companies the delegation met with indicated imports are an important factor in meeting the country’s ethanol demand. “Any opportunity for North Dakota or U.S. ethanol to provide that, that’s what we were hoping to build relationships and start discussions on,” Wiese said 

Trade trips like this one are important for the U.S. ethanol industry, Wiese said. “Increasing exports is a challenge now, considering all of the trade barriers, but it is very important for the future of the industry,” she said. “When or if, those trade barriers get lifted, it’s important to build those relationships so that you’re at the table when those opportunities do come along.”