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Overseas buyers will get look at ethanol industry during tours Thursday in Willmar and Granite Falls

Minnesota's ethanol industry will be showcased to delegation from six countries

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The Granite Falls Energy ethanol plant is shown in this file photo.

WILLMAR — Fifteen Middle Eastern and African high-level government officials and ethanol decision-makers will be in Willmar and Granite Falls Thursday as part of a two-day tour to Minnesota to better understand the U.S. ethanol production process from farm to ethanol plant.

The tour will showcase Minnesota’s ethanol industry and demonstrate its value as a potential trade partner, according to a news release from the Minnesota Corn Growers Association

Led by the U.S. Grains Council in partnership with the Minnesota Corn Research and Promotion Council and the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, the delegation includes people from Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi and Jordan.

The individuals represent countries that are exploring expanding ethanol use to address fuel quality and environmental concerns, according to the Corn Growers Association.

The tour includes a 10 a.m. stop Thursday at Dooley’s Petroleum in Willmar, where delegation members will hear about the distribution process, and a 1 p.m. tour at Granite Falls Energy, an ethanol plant in Granite Falls. The delegation will also tour Velde Farms in Wood Lake to learn about corn production and why the ethanol industry is crucial to the rural economy in the U.S.

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On Wednesday, the tour includes stops in Eyota, Rochester, Inver Grove Heights and Shakopee.

“This impressive group of ethanol leaders are in the U.S. to learn how U.S. ethanol contributes to meeting their biofuels goals, including increasing environmental, human health and economic benefits not only in their respective countries, but around the world,” said Ryan LeGrand, U.S. Grains Council president and CEO.

“Concerns about the environment, air quality and human health have led governments to find renewable contributions to transportation fuel and our hope is by learning more, these decision-makers will see the United States as their partner in meeting these needs,” LeGrand said.

For the last 10 years, ethanol has been the fastest-growing U.S. agricultural export, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service. In 2018, U.S. ethanol exports totaled 1.7 billion gallons valued at $2.7 billion.

Prior to the tour the delegation was at the Global Ethanol Summit in Washington, D.C.

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