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Letter: Carbon projects key to thriving Ag economy
The proposed carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) platforms currently under consideration here in South Dakota are a clear winner for our bioethanol industry, but the significant benefits they would bring to farmers and the many ag-driven communities across South Dakota is the side of the story not being told.
The past is often prologue, and history has proven that when bioethanol wins, farmers win.
When the bioethanol industry scaled up from 1 percent of the nation’s standard gasoline supply to 10 percent, farm income in the U.S. doubled. Now, CCUS projects provide the opportunity for long-term growth in value-added agriculture, and as bioethanol production grows, so too will farm incomes, just as they did in the past.
Here in South Dakota, these projects would allow the state’s bioethanol producers to compete in low-carbon fuel markets, and increased bioethanol production would drive additional demand for local corn. According to new economic research by the Dakota Institute, this would add an average of 19 cents per bushel statewide to the corn basis.
And the economic benefits extend far beyond the farm. According to the same study, from 2024 to 2034, South Dakota would see an estimated $5.92 billion increase in gross output from the construction and ongoing operations of the CCUS platforms. That includes not only the improvement to the corn basis but also boosts to industries like construction, retail trade, and manufacturing. On top of that are the additional 7,105 hometown jobs created by the projects. These economic benefits put these carbon projects on the same scale as some of our state’s most historic economic development projects we’ve ever accomplished.
Thirty-five years ago, POET began producing bioethanol to create additional value at the farm with new markets for corn. Over the years, we continued to create even more value from every kernel through the development of additional bioproducts, including corn oil and distillers grain animal feed. Today, CCUS is the latest value-add optimization that will keep bioprocessing plants – and, in turn, agriculture – on the cutting edge of technology, sustainability, and future opportunities, so that rural communities can thrive for generations to come.
Joshua Shields, senior vice president, corporate affairs, POET