Following Secretary Vilsack’s speech at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on October 21, he took a road trip down to the Southeastern region of the country to visit and tour RFA Member First United Ethanol, LLC or FUEL, located in Mitchell County, Georgia. On his October 25th meeting, Vilsack alongside U.S. Representative Sanford Bishop met with FUEL’s Board of Directors and employees to emphasize the need to stop our dependence on foreign oil. He also focused on how the ethanol industry helps the economy and the job market throughout America. The ethanol industry today helps support more than 400,000 jobs in all sectors of the economy.
Vilsack touted the FUEL facility telling CEO Murray Campbell and Chairman Tommy Dollar that he can clearly see the team that operates and manages the plant understand the future of the ethanol industry and the need to continue to look ahead. There are numerous issues that the industry is facing currently including the extension of the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC), due to expire at the end of this year. Vilsack discussed this with the FUEL folks, stressing the importance of Congress passing this extension so that our country can focus on the long-term distribution efforts. Speaking of distribution efforts, in his speech at the National Press Club, Vilsack mentioned that the USDA was going to help out by funding the installation of 10,000 blender pumps at stations and convenience stores across the country.
FUEL is the Southeast’s first ethanol plant to produce 100 million gallons annually. Beginning production in October 2008, the plant grinds 36 million bushels of corn per year, purchasing 24% of the crop from their local farmers. On a weekly basis, FUEL ships an average of 235 ethanol trucks within a 100 mile radius of the plant, and has about 325 trucks delivering the ethanol co-product dried distillers grains (DDGs). FUEL is also a plant that is increasing their energy efficiency by capturing the carbon dioxide it emits during the production process and selling it to AirGas, a distributor of industrial, medical and specialty gases with a facility right next door to FUEL.