Ethanol industry recovering from 'nastiest stretch of time' - The Blade

By Jon Chavez - March 31, 2013

Todd Becker pulls no punches when he talks about how bad the latter half of 2012 was for the ethanol industry.

"I've been in the industry since 2006. That was the worst, nastiest stretch of time I've ever seen in this industry. But we always knew it was coming," said Mr. Becker, president and chief executive officer of Omaha-based Green Plains Renewable Energy, the company that owns and operates the 60-million-gallon Riga Township ethanol plant near Blissfield, Mich., in Lenawee County.

A combination of last year's drought, which shrunk corn supplies, burgeoning stockpiles of ethanol, weaker consumer demand for gasoline, higher prices for corn, and increased ethanol imports from Brazil left ethanol makers in an unaccustomed state of sitting on too much of their corn-derived fuel additive.

"It was all a recipe for a cyclical downturn for the ethanol industry," Mr. Becker said.

Production that reached 13.9 billion gallons of ethanol in 2011 dropped to 13.3 billion gallons last year, the industry's first annual decrease since 1996.

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