January 15, 2009

Corn Growers on Stage in Brasilia

During a visit to the Ministry of Mining and Energy on Tuesday, January 13, two members of our group had the opportunity to provide Brazilian officials with an update on the U.S. ethanol and biodiesel industries.

Dave Loos of Illinois gave an update on the ethanol industry in the U.S. Don Elsbernd of the Iowa Corn Growers (pictured) briefed the group on biodiesel in the U.S. Both presentations sparked considerable discussion about the similarities of the two countries’ industries—and the distinct differences, especially regarding government policy and long-term strategy. Of course, Brazil also has the infrastructure, the fuel and the initiative to make energy independence happen in their nation.

Elsbernd noted that, in the U.S., biodiesel blends of up to B20 are common. In Brazil, there is a 3% blend mandate that is slated to grow to 5% in a few years; but is expected to actually reach 10% simply through market forces.

The discussion included comments on the auto industry. Several automakers market FFVs and 100% ethanol-compatible vehicles in Brazil. In the brief time we’ve been in country, we’ve seed everything from Ford to Hyundai, from Peugeot to Toyota, from Renault to Kia, from Honda to Chevrolet. If a carmaker is going to compete in Brazil, they have to offer FFVs and 100% ethanol vehicles. It’s as simple as that. And Brazil has shown that this can be done. Our trip to a car dealership got postponed due to the length of our meeting at the Ministry, but we hope to reschedule within the next day or two.

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