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Iowa produced record-breaking amount of ethanol in 2018

The distillation unit for ethanol production at Ingredion in Cedar Rapids on Monday, Jul. 2, 2018. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
The distillation unit for ethanol production at Ingredion in Cedar Rapids on Monday, Jul. 2, 2018. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

Iowa ethanol plants produced a record-breaking 4.35 billion gallons last year.

The state’s ethanol production in 2018 was up from 4.2 billion gallons in 2017, but still fell below the 4.5 billion capacity of Iowa’s ethanol producers, according to a Wednesday news release from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.

In the release, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw attributed much of the increase to record exports of ethanol.

Shaw also noted that small-refinery exemptions in the Renewable Fuel Standard and ongoing trade disputes with China have hurt margins.

“This record production is a testament to the resilience of Iowa’s ethanol producers,” Shaw said in the release. “This past year, they were hit with demand-destroying small-refinery exemptions and a closed Chinese market. The resulting low or in some cases negative margins made 2018 a tough year for ethanol producers and our corn suppliers. Iowa ethanol producers have weathered the storm fairly well given the reports of idled and even shuttered plants in other states.”

Iowa’s ethanol production is projected to make up about 27 percent of the total U.S. production last year.

“We hope that 2019 can get ethanol demand out of neutral and growing again with a properly enforced (Renewable Fuel Standard), year-round E15 and the reopening of the China market,” Shaw said. “Much depends on the actions of the Trump administration and the (Environmental Protection Agency). It is within their power to set us on the course for not only record ethanol production, but restored prosperity in rural America.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8309; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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