Producer Spotlight : Heartland Corn Products

Interview with Scott Blumhoefer, Vice President of Heartland Corn Products.

Q. Could you tell us a bit about the Heartland Corn Products plant in Winthrop?

A. Heartland Corn Products is cooperatively owned by 900 local producers.  Operations began in 1995 as a 10MM GPY facility and today operates at 100MM GPY.  In addition to ethanol, Heartland produces DDGS, crude corn oil, and captures some CO2. 

Heartland Plant 1

Q. As we know, ethanol production efficiencies have increased  significantly in recent years. Could you please share where Heartland has made the most significant improvements since opening in 1995.

A. The industry has made many improvements over the past 10 to 15 years.  As an example, Heartland has been able to reduce water usage down from over 6 gallons of water per gallon of ethanol produced to now just above 2 gallons of water.  Natural gas and electrical usage are down 30% per gallon of ethanol produced since 1995.  Ethanol yield per bushel of corn has increased over 7%.

Q. What is your professional background and what attracted you to work for Heartland Corn Products?

A. Prior to Heartland I spent about a dozen years in banking.  Having grown up on a farm, I have always been drawn to agriculture and working for a community bank gave me the opportunity to remain close to producers.  Heartland has given me the chance to be part of a company that has such a positive and direct impact on our local producer members.  The industry is very interesting and dynamic.

Q. Tell us a bit about how Heartland Corn Products benefits the local economy in the Winthrop area?

A. As a cooperative, Heartland returns the majority of its earnings back to its members as patronage.  Heartland’s members are local farmer producers, so value returned to members is spent primarily in surrounding communities.

Q. What are your feelings on the role of the Minnesota state government and how its policies affect the state’s ethanol producers? Are there policy changes you’d like to see that would greatly impact the Minnesota ethanol industry?

A. As the Minnesota ethanol industry has matured, the best policies, both State and Federal, would be those that do not inhibit growth and innovation that would be otherwise driven by the marketplace.  All industries should be required to do their part to keep the environment safe for future generations, with assistance from agencies that share that same goal.

Q. Given that parts of Minnesota and of the U.S. are still under a strong drought, what steps is Heartland Corn Products taking to help ease the burden of elevated corn prices.

A. Heartland is structured as a delivery obligated cooperative, in that members are required to deliver corn for processing in relation to the number of shares that they own.  Since inception, Heartland has been able to return back to members value for their corn delivered that has exceeded the average local market price.  This has been the case in years of low and high priced corn markets.