Alden, Iowa-based Summit Group announced a project to build the first modern corn ethanol plant in Brazil during the 2014 Farm Progress Show. The project will consist of a US$140 million ethanol plant near Lucas do Rio Verde in Mato Grosso, a leading agricultural state in west central Brazil and the country’s largest producer of corn and soybeans. The project is being financed by Summit Group who is partnering with Fiagril and will be developed by ethanol technology company ICM and built by agribusiness company Marino Franz.
To learn more about the project I spoke with Eric Peterson, Summit Group president, who said that his organization does large crop production, hog production and cattle production and as part of that they have a private equity group, U.S. Farmland Fund, that is providing the financing for the project.
One of the interesting parts in particular about Mato Grosso is because of improved genetics they’re able to double crop. So they are able to raise the first crop of soybeans and the second crop of corn or cotton so they have increasing corn production in the middle of the continent where it is difficult to get it out. So they are embracing “value-added” agriculture.
Peterson also spoke more specifically about the value-added opportunities the corn ethanol plant will provide the community of Mato Grosso. Peterson explained the area has difficulty getting corn exports out of the region and ethanol into the region. With the new ethanol plant, the corn will be purchased locally and the ethanol and DDGs produced will then stay local – overcoming the export/import barriers of the region. This has made the project and partners very accepted in the community.
Another key to the area is the farmer’s use of precision agriculture. Peterson believes there is a great opportunity to create synergistic relationships between U.S. farmers and Brazilian farmers. “When we go there we are impressed with some of their technology and how they adapt to large scale agriculture and they are quickly adopting precision technologies that we have here in the U.S. and there is no better place for people to assimilate technology than in Brazil and so I think we can learn a lot from each other,” explained Peterson.
He also explained that although the U.S. is ahead in the use of precision ag, Brazilian farmers have had to adopt to large-scale farms much more quickly than U.S. farmers. “So in some ways they are ahead and in some ways we are ahead,” commented Peterson.
The plant is to break ground the next six months and to be operational 16 months from groundbreaking, which will occur before the rainy season in Feb/March and will produce 50 million gallons of ethanol per year.
To learn more about the agribusiness and precision ag aspects of the Summit Group’s Brazilian ethanol plant, listen to my interview with Eric Peterson: [wpaudio url=”http://www.zimmcomm.biz/farm-progress/fps14-summitgroup-peterson.mp3″ text=”Interview with Eric Peterson”]
View the Farm Progress 2014 Flicker photo album.