Under water in Iowa

Published on: 23:09PM Jun 18, 2008
If you’ve wondered why there hasn’t been a new Biofuels Update posting in awhile, it’s because I’m up to my neck in water. Not literally, but certainly in covering this historic flood event for Farm Journal Media. Thankfully my husband’s family farm in Scott County, Iowa, has been spared flooding (although the crops don’t look so hot due to a wet, wet spring), but lots of folks along the nearby Mississippi River aren’t faring too well.
A levee broke in Oakville, Iowa about an hour south of where I live and flooded 20,000 acres of prime bottomland. Lots of farmers around here say they won’t be able to replant acres they’ve lost. More importantly, people have lost their homes, livestock and equipment. The state of Iowa will recover, but it will take a long time to dry out.
As for the flood’s impact on Iowa biofuels (don’t forget we still lead the nation in biofuels production), the damage is still being assessed. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) estimates that over 300 million gallons (annualized) of ethanol production is off-line. That number could be growing as rivers continue to crest.
IRFA is unaware of any biodiesel production being disrupted due to flooding. Several ethanol and biodiesel plants experienced small disruptions due to lightening and power outages, but nothing significant has been reported.
No ethanol or biodiesel refinery has reported a disruption of feedstock supply that will impact operations, according to IRFA. I suspect that story will change over time.
I’ll be reporting on the impact of the flood and poor crop conditions on biofuels in the coming issues of Farm Journal and Top Producer magazines. But I’d love to hear what you think about the floods impacts on biofuels. What’s the word on your street?