BISMARCK, N.D. —The North Dakota Industrial Commission approved the Ethanol Recovery Program on Thursday, April 30, a loan guarantee and interest buydown program for the state’s ethanol industry.

The North Dakota Ethanol Producers Association worked with the Bank of North Dakota over the past week to ensure the program's effectiveness, according to NDEPA President Gerald Bachmeier. He said the program is "essential to farmers and rural communities" during these challenging times.

“Fuel demand has plummeted due to the COVID-19 pandemic and global supplies of crude oil have pushed fuel prices down,” he said in a statement. “As biofuel plants across the country close, this program will offer significant support toward sustaining North Dakota’s ethanol plants during this crisis.”

The financing program aims to assist North Dakota’s ethanol producers in securing working capital to maintain operations in the state. The ethanol industry in North Dakota supports more than 10,000 jobs utilizing 140 million bushels of corn to produce 400 million gallons of ethanol and 1.3 million tons of distiller’s grains, according to the Industrial Commission.

The commission comprises Gov. Doug Burgum as chairman, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring.

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“North Dakota’s ethanol plants provide an economic impact to the small communities in which they are located and to the agriculture community as a whole,” they said in a joint statement on Friday. The Bank of North Dakota “is again showing it is agile and can adapt to current economic conditions. BND is able to provide working capital to the ethanol industry by utilizing the Partnership in Community Expansion (PACE) program, which offers buydowns to a borrower’s interest rate, in tandem with the legislatively authorized Fuel Production Loan Guarantee program for biofuels.”

Under terms of the program, the commission said the state’s ethanol producers may access up to $15 million or 50 cents per bushel of corn that would have normally been purchased (or the volume of equivalent feedstock capacity) in the first two quarters of 2020, whichever is less. BND will provide buydown from its PACE program up to a maximum of $500,000.

Bachmeier, who released his statement on Thursday, said:

“The North Dakota Ethanol Producers Association would like to thank the North Dakota Industrial Commission for its approval of the Ethanol Recovery Program, which is a $50 million loan guarantee and interest buydown program to provide a bridge for the state’s ethanol producers to future profitability. …

“North Dakota’s ethanol industry commends the Bank of North Dakota for its responsiveness and excellent efforts to quickly and effectively develop this program, which fills the gap where the federal government programs are not working for the state’s ethanol industry. The ethanol industry is also appreciative of the North Dakota Legislature for previously authorizing the programs and funding that allowed the Ethanol Recovery Program to be established.”