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USDA directs $32 million in COVID-19 aid to Kansas ethanol production plants

By: - June 6, 2022 11:13 am
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says eight ethanol plants in Kansas undercut in the COVID-19 pandemic will receive more than $32 million in CARES Act support. USDA earmarked comparable assistance to biofuel companies in 25 states. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says eight ethanol plants in Kansas undercut in the COVID-19 pandemic will receive more than $32 million in CARES Act support. USDA earmarked comparable assistance to biofuel companies in 25 states. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — Operators of eight ethanol plants in Kansas disrupted by economics of the COVID-19 pandemic will receive more than $32.4 million in federal disaster aid, officials said Monday.

The largest Kansas recipients of assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture are Conestoga Energy Holdings, of Liberal, and East Kansas Agri-Energy of Garnett. Conestoga, which has two ethanol facilities in Kansas, qualified for $14.4 million. East Kansas Agri-Energy, with a single facility, was to receive $5.4 million.

Dan Fischer, acting state director of rural development at USDA, said the biofuel producer program was part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act also known as the CARES Act. The USDA initiative was designed to help sustain markets for Kansas producers of corn, soybean or biomass used in biofuel production.

“The pandemic disrupted the rural economy through market interruptions,” Fischer said. “The USDA is targeting resources to improve the resiliency of critical markets for Kansas farmers and ranchers.”

Overall, the CARES Act program for U.S. biofuel facilities appropriated grants to 195 production plants in 25 states.

Other Kansas recipients of federal aid: Pratt Energy, of Pratt, $4.1 million; Western Plains Energy, of Oakley, $2.4 million; Kansas Ethanol, of Lyons, $2.1 million; Phillips County Ethanol Project, of Phillipsburg, $1.7 million; Nesika Energy, of Scandia, $1.3 million; and Purefield Ingredients, of Russell, $702,000.

In addition, two companies based in Kansas received USDA support for facilities operated in other states. Trenton Agri Products, of Wichita, received $2.6 million for a Nebraska plant. ICM Biofuels, of Colwich, received $1.2 million for a Missouri facility.

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Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter

Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.

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