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USDA Directs $32 Million in COVID-19 Aid to Kansas Ethanol Production Plants

By 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.