BLOOMINGTON – Corn growers are pleased U.S. ethanol is finding its way into new markets across the world.
The Illinois Corn Marketing Board has been working closely with the U.S. Grains Council to open the Japanese fuel market to U.S. ethanol.
“In the past, Japan has used only Brazilian-raised sugar cane ethanol,” explained Rodney Weinzierl, executive director for Illinois Corn.
A representative from University of Illinois Chicago spent time in Japan discussing the benefits of corn-based fuel and the similarities to Brazilian cane ethanol. Japan changed its energy bill to allow U.S. ethanol to enter the market.
“That started in April and now has gained the attention of South Korea,” said Weinzierl.
Talks are currently underway with South Korea for potential opportunities there. Weinzierl believes U.S. ethanol is not only the most competitively-priced octane enhancer but also significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions. This means cleaner air for large metro areas which struggle with air quality.
“We see that as an excellent opportunity in the future for more market growth in Illinois and corn produced in other states,” Weinzierl added.
Weinzierl is also hopeful for a free trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada this summer, calling Mexico a “huge” market for our corn along with pork and ethanol. Canada is also a strong ethanol market.
“We are waiting for Speaker Pelosi to decide when, where and if she’s going to do that,” said Weinzierl. “We are hopeful Congress is going to deal with a trade agreement before the August recess.”
Illinois Corn has been working to educate members of the Illinois Congressional delegation with most being open to the need for trade with neighboring countries. According to Weinzierl, an agreement would provide stability and take away some of the uncertainty in our trade relations.
Another issue being closely monitored by those in the corn industry is the completion of the E-15 waiver rule comment period. The president announced last fall he wants to allow the use of ethanol throughout the nation year-round. There are current regulatory restrictions during the summer months in many parts of the country.
“U.S. EPA proposed a rule change and it was just out for public comment in late March and finished last week. We are waiting on that final rule that should come out prior to June 1,” Weinzierl stated.
Illinois Corn hopes EPA will have a favorable regulation change to allow year-round use of the blend.