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Published in Energy
Michigan-based biofuel producers receive $8.6M in targeted federal pandemic relief COURTESY PHOTO

Michigan-based biofuel producers receive $8.6M in targeted federal pandemic relief

BY Tuesday, June 14, 2022 10:45am

Two Michigan-based biofuel producers have received a total of nearly $8.7 million in federal relief to help recover from unexpected losses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sandusky-based Thumb Bioenergy LLC received about $28,500 while Marysville Ethanol LLC received more than $8.6 million, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Thumb Bioenergy operates a facility that produces biomass-based diesel while the Marysville plant produces ethanol. 

Additionally, two multi-state biofuel producers — The Andersons Inc. and Poet Holding Co. LLC — with operations in Michigan received more than $67.6 million combined.

The funding announced on June 3 comes from a $700 million aid package through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to “help biofuel producers recover from unexpected market losses suffered as a result of COVID-19,” according to the federal agency. The funding is part of the Biofuel Producer Program created under the federal CARES Act.

Formed in 2009, Thumb Bioenergy collects used cooking oil from more than 800 restaurants across the state to produce biodiesel that can be purchased at wholesale retail fuel distribution sites in Huron, Lapeer, Sanilac, St. Clair and Tuscola counties.

Attempts to reach Thumb Bioenergy and Marysville Ethanol officials were unsuccessful.

The $700 million will support 195 U.S. biofuel production facilities in 25 states that make fuel from corn, soybeans and biomass. These producers experienced unexpected market losses on a combined 3.7 billion gallons of fuel during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the USDA. More than $486 million of the funding was distributed to 62 producers in “socially vulnerable communities.”

In Michigan and across the U.S., biofuel producers faced significant uncertainty at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic as fuel demand dropped off and oil prices reached historical lows. Michigan Farm News reported in late April 2020 that three of Michigan’s five ethanol plants were shut down at the time while the other two had scaled back production.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to rebuilding the rural economy after the impacts of the pandemic,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. “That’s why USDA is targeting resources and investments to improve the strength and resiliency of America’s sustainable fuel markets.”

Vilsack added that the investments “will pave the way to economic recovery for America’s biofuel producers, stimulate a critical market for U.S. farmers and ranchers, and support our nation’s transition to a clean-energy economy.”

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