Letters to the Editor

Comments on fedgazette articles on ethanol and exports.

Published September 1, 2003  | September 2003 issue

Re: Ethanol

To the Editor:
Thanks for your excellent article, "Gentlemen, start your ethanol engines," which contributes information on state incentive programs and looks at the possibilities for more growth in ethanol production resulting from passage of federal Renewable Fuels Standard legislation. For your readers' benefit, I would add more information about the amount of energy resulting from production of ethanol from corn, which the article correctly noted is greater than the energy needed to produce this fuel.

The very thorough U.S. Department of Agriculture study by Duffield, Shapouri and Wang cites a net energy balance of 1.34 to 1.0, meaning that the entire production of corn (with all its inputs) and subsequent processing to ethanol results in over one-third more energy that is available for use. From a typical acre of land producing 150 bushels of corn, 412 gallons of ethanol, 2,700 pounds of animal feed and 2,700 pounds of food-grade, salable carbon dioxide are produced. In addition to the positive net energy balance established, the USDA authors also note that there is a 6 BTU gain for every BTU of liquid fuel used to produce the ethanol. In this regard, use of fuel ethanol leverages or extends the supply of petroleum. Other recent studies citing similar or higher energy balances for fuel ethanol production have been conducted by Michigan State University and Agriculture Canada.

Douglas G. Tiffany
Department of Applied Economics
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minn.

Re: All Abroad

To the Editor:
The comments attributed to me in the May article [on exports and referenced in a July letter to the editor] were somewhat out of context. When the article quoted me as stating that "Banks know virtually nothing about exporting, and they don't want to know anything about exporting," my complete statement was in reference to a majority of the bankers located within the state of North Dakota—the loan officers on the line working day in and day out with the local business community.

The experience of business leaders around the state is that local bank staff do not understand exporting and most are not knowledgeable of the services available through the Minneapolis banking centers, export service providers and government agencies.

That is the primary reason that Export North Dakota and the North Dakota District Export Council work so hard at bringing together the international bankers from Minneapolis with North Dakota businesspeople through seminars, the exportnd.com Web site and other networking.

One of our most important programs is to provide training for local banking staff in the basics of export financing. If every commercial loan officer understood some of the tools available to their client businesses, they could work to encourage appropriate companies to explore exporting.

This is beginning to happen in North Dakota, but it is a slow process. Thanks to the support and efforts of U.S. Bank, Bremer and Wells Fargo, we are working together to change the picture. However, the job is far from done.

Neil Whittey
CEO, LAS International
Chairman, North Dakota District Export Council
and Export North Dakota