Since 2012, Husker Ag in Plainview, Nebraska, has contributed more than $250,000 to Nebraska’s fuel infrastructure by funding higher-blend ethanol pumps at stations across the state.
“The goal is not just to produce ethanol, but to give every Nebraskan the opportunity to use it,” said Seth Harder, Husker Ag general manager. “We truly believe that ethanol is the best option for our state, farmers, consumers and our nation going forward.”
In 2011, Harder recommended that Husker Ag be proactive as a company, and work to move higher than 10 percent ethanol in fuel. The board of directors agreed.
This enthusiastic effort to offer Nebraskans more choice at the pump resulted in 11 stations across northeastern Nebraska and Yankton, South Dakota, with pumps that could dispense a range between E15 and E85 fuel, including E20 and E30. E15 (15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline) is approved for use in all vehicles 2001 or newer, while flex fuel vehicles can run on any blend of fuel up to E85 (85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline).
“Recently, we funded new pumps in Yankton, South Dakota, and Pilger, Nebraska,” Harder said. “We are currently evaluating a few locations in northeast Nebraska, and will continue to look for prospects in the area. Generally, we choose non-branded parties that want to differentiate their product line to compete with chains.”
In addition to Yankton and Pilger, Husker Ag contributed funds for flex fuel pumps in Creighton, Crofton, Hartington, Norfolk, Osmond, Pierce (2), Plainview and Valentine.
“Speedee Mart in Norfolk stands out as a major success,” Harder said. “The volume sold for the size of that town is exceptional. Installing flex fuel pumps benefits both the business and the customer. For the station, it gives them an in-demand product that might not be available elsewhere. For the consumer, it gives them another option that costs less and is better for the environment.”
Husker Ag’s endeavor to expand ethanol’s availability does not end with funding new pumps. Frequently, the company provides discounted ethanol for fuel promotions across the state.
“We pass our ethanol savings onto retail locations so they can offer a great price to the consumer,” Harder said. “We sell the discounted ethanol for specific promotion days or grand openings, which gives us a chance to interact with drivers.”
The Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB) recently recognized Harder for his leadership at Husker Ag and the company’s success with fuel retailers. NEB Administrator Todd Sneller believes Husker Ag is a leader for the state’s ethanol industry.
“Nebraska looks to companies that go above and beyond to show what’s possible for the future of ethanol,” Sneller said. “Husker Ag continues to push forward with higher-blends that benefit our economy and environment.”
Harder will speak about his direct marketing experience at the American Coalition for Ethanol Conference in Omaha Aug. 15-17. He will present on how ethanol producers and fuel marketers improve the availability of competitively-priced ethanol through direct marketing.
“I encourage everyone in the industry to do what they can to help this industry succeed,” Harder added. “We all need to be involved to move past the mythical blend wall. The demand for ethanol is there, so we need to make sure we do everything we can to meet it.”
Husker Ag, LLC is an ethanol production facility built by Fagen Inc. of Granite Falls, Minnesota, and designed by ICM of Colwich, Kansas. With the expansions, Husker Ag now utilizes more than 29 million bushels of corn per year to produce about 85 million gallons of denatured ethanol, expected to be at 90 million gallons by the end of 2017. Husker Ag also produces about 475,000 tons of modified wet distillers grain per year, which is fed by area cattle feeders. Currently, Husker Ag employs 51 full-time employees from several surrounding communities including: Norfolk, Pierce, Randolph, Osmond, Plainview, Creighton, Bloomfield, Brunswick, Elgin and Tilden.