Farmers and Biofuel Workers Affected by COVID-19 Pandemic
The biofuel industry is also feeling the effects of the coronavirus as production at three area plants is being shut down. According to a press release, POET announced today it will idle production at its bioprocessing facilities in Chancellor, S.D., Ashton, Iowa, and Coon Rapids, Iowa.
Additionally POET is delaying the start-up of its new plant in Shelbyville, Ind., as producers across the United States continue to grapple with the economic fallout of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. These operational changes are expected to reduce corn demand by 110 million bushels, freezing 330 million gallons of ethanol production across the four facilities. POET has also significantly slowed production at other facilities, further decreasing corn demand.
“Across the board, biofuel producers and our partners in the farm community face an unprecedented challenge,” said POET Founder and CEO Jeff Broin. “From day one of this crisis, we have placed the highest priority on protecting the health and welfare of our workers, partners, and farm suppliers. At the same time, we are working hard to ensure that every biorefinery remains well-positioned to support a strong and swift recovery once daily life returns to normal. That means responding dynamically to shifting conditions and optimizing production, market by market, as the situation evolves over the next few months.
Ethanol producers across the country are slashing production amid the ongoing crisis. Nationally, experts predict a decline in fuel demand of up to 55 percent. If these conditions persist, it will result in an annualized drop in ethanol demand of up to eight billion gallons or 2.7 billion bushels of corn.