Following the U.S. Grains Council’s (USGC’s) Global Ethanol Summit (GES), held Oct. 16-18, 11 groups of attendees dispersed to ethanol-producing states around the country where they spent the next few days viewing the biofuel value chain firsthand before heading back to their home countries.
Kentucky Corn welcomed 15 influential industry stakeholders and policymakers from Vietnam as they sought to learn more about the environmental and economic benefits of bioethanol blending. Specifically, the Vietnam delegation was comprised of government officials, ethanol producers, ethanol and fuel associations, fuel traders, blenders, and retail fuel companies.
The group departed for Nashville, TN, on Oct. 18 and stopped at a Thorntons retail gas station to chat with company management about how consumers have multiple fuel choices at the pump and how E10 accounts for more than 95 percent of the fuel consumed in the U.S.
Oct. 19 was a jam-packed day that kicked off with a meeting with local farming leaders and a tour of an equipment repair bay at H&R Agri-Power. Multi-generation farming families were on hand to answer questions about how U.S. producers have increased output while staying environmentally friendly, a major point of interest for many overseas consumers.
Next up was an in-depth look at bioethanol production facilities at Commonwealth Agri-Energy, including raw material deliveries, an on-site lab for quality control and co-product storage and handling.
The afternoon included a visit to Brandon Hunt’s fifth-generation, family-run farming operation that predominantly grows corn, wheat and soybeans. He was in the midst of harvesting soybeans and planting cover crops for the winter, just one of several sustainable farming methods used by U.S. producers year-round.
The final day of the trip began with another opportunity to observe a typical U.S. fuel station and witness drivers filling their vehicles with E10-blended gasoline. Participants were also enthralled by a particular customer’s vintage truck and its owner was kind enough to chat with the group about its maintenance and fueling needs.
Next, attendees received a tour of the Buckeye Fuel Terminal in Nashville to learn about bioethanol blending and storage before it heads to retail stations. The group was lucky to have a truck arrive to fill up with bioethanol during the visit, and the driver was able to discuss his daily routine and safety protocols that ensure U.S. vehicles can stay on the move every day.
Programming concluded with a meeting at Eco-Energy, with presentations about the company’s marketing and business strategies. The agenda items impressed and reassured participants as they learned about the diligent product testing and secure transport methods throughout the bioethanol supply chain.
Overall, it was clear to see how active and curious the attendees were in learning about U.S. bioethanol production as Vietnam is considering multiple avenues to decrease its climate footprint, including wider adoption of biofuels. Engagement activities like this and the rest of GES’s programming represent small steps toward a greener tomorrow.
Adapted from U.S. Grain’s Council Global Update for Oct. 26, 2023, by Will Margerum, USGC communications coordinator and Global Update editor.