Economic study

Nebraska economic study finds state’s ethanol industry continues to grow

The report indicates that the global value of ethanol and its co-products averages around 64% of corn production, 33% of beef production and 131% of soybean production, making ethanol the third most major agricultural industry in the state.

Additionally, the economic study found that the ethanol industry continues to add jobs to the Nebraska economy.

From 2010 to 2014, the state’s ethanol industry employed 1,301 full-time employees. This number grew to 1,453 employees from 2015 to 2017.

“These jobs generated $71 million in primary employee income from 2010 to 2014 and $97 million from 2015 to 2017,” according to a press release.

“In 2018 and 2019, the industry employed 1,460 full-time equivalents, which generated $125 million in labor income and $13 million in indirect business taxes.

According to the study, the revenues of ethanol producers tell a different story.

From 2010 to 2014, producer revenues averaged $34 million and just $11 million per year from 2015 to 2017, which was “primarily caused by lower prices,” according to the press release. Producer income changed very little from 2018 to 2019 at an estimated average of $12 million.

Brooks said the latest data shows ethanol co-product markets continue to grow, including for dried, wet and modified distillers grains and corn oil. Additionally, the study found that Nebraska producers continue to expand beyond traditional co-products.

“Comparing the two most recent reports shows a trend of stability in ethanol production,” Brooks said.

Almost all of Nebraska’s ethanol and about half of the state’s distillers’ dried grain and corn oil production are exported, according to the report, meaning most of the production has a positive net effect for the State. Sales outside of Nebraska represent a direct economic effect, bringing new money into the Nebraska economy, according to the report.

The UNL report also found what it called a “positive impact” on local corn spot prices. In summary, the study found an average increase in corn prices of about 21 cents per bushel in “immediate areas” near ethanol plants.

“A grower near an ethanol plant producing 220 bushels of corn per acre could receive, on average, an additional $46.86 per acre,” the press release said.

“Producers further away from ethanol plants face higher transportation costs and would earn a lower amount.”

Todd Neeley can be reached at [email protected]

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