FEW kicks off in St. Louis with remarks by Broin

By Chris Hanson | June 10, 2013

The 29th International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo officially kicked off June 10 with a ribbon cutting ceremony by Jeff Broin, founder and chairman of the board of Poet LLC, and Tim Portz, executive editor of Ethanol Producer Magazine.

As a part of the opening ceremonies, Broin featured the past struggles of the ethanol industry at large. “In the early days of this industry, we had big goals and big visions,” Broin said. “We also had a lot of challenges. At that time, the industry was [producing] about 750 million gallons, so not a lot of capacity at the time compared to today.”

He also highlighted past challenges that were overcome, such as passage of the Clean Air Act of 1990, enactment of the renewable fuels standard (RFS) and attacks on ethanol tax incentives. “We were constantly battling and constantly working to move this industry forward,” he added, “and because of that hard work, we got to where we are today.”

The ethanol industry is faced with more challenges today. “We are again fighting for our own existence,” he said. He added the industry has the challenge of overcoming debates around the RFS and breaking through the blend wall with E15 and other lawsuits. “Don’t kid yourself, we’re at war,” he said. “We’re at war for billions of dollars of revenue that others do not want to give up.”

In order to overcome the current challenges, Broin said companies should become more united and increasingly involved with political action committees (PACS) and other pro-ethanol organizations. “We all need to work together to see that next successful growth in this business. It’s going to take a lot of work,” he said, “just like it always has.”

Despite the oncoming challenges, there appears to be more opportunities on the horizon for the industry. Broin said with increasing corn yields, billions of acres of crop land, potential for cellulosic ethanol growth, better plant efficiencies and new products will help overcome challenges and usher in a new wave of success for the industry.

Lastly, Broin acknowledged the Bryan family’s involvement with founding FEW. “They’re the reason that we have this Fuel Ethanol Workshop to come to,” Broin said. Kathy, now deceased, and Mike Bryan started BBI International, which puts on FEW and publishes Ethanol Producer Magazine. The company is now run by Joe and Tom Bryan, Mike Bryan’s sons.

More than 1,700 people from 26 countries registered for the event, which was held at the America’s Center in St. Louis, Mo.