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Young Farmers look behind the scenes

By Staff | Feb 17, 2015

JASON DRENTH, left, of Rock Rapids, James Korver, center, of Maurice, join Beth Doran, an ISU Extension field specialist, during a renewable energy discussion at a Feb. 3 Young Farmers visit to Plymouth Energy in Merrill.

MERRILL – Steam wrapped itself around the Plymouth Energy plant as members of northwest Iowa’s Young Farmers gathered Feb. 4 for a learning session at the Merrill ethanol operation.

Brian Hermelbracht, Plymouth Energy’s farm commodities manager, was on hand to welcome attendees preparing to tour the production facility.

“Our production is used by a sizable number of livestock, dairy and poultry producers within a 40-mile radius of our operation,” he explained, estimating that between 50 to 70 percent of the wet and dry distillers co-products are sold in the local area.

He said, “When protein markets are right” the products are shipped as far south as Arkansas for poultry markets. Trucks are used primarily to transport Plymouth Energy’s daily production of about 400 tons of wet distiller’s grain and an additional 200 tons daily of dry production to local users.

“We like to keep everybody rolling,” Hermelbracht said, “to be an important part of the agricultural cycle locally at the same time adding to the community’s economy and providing the jobs we do to our 40 employees.”

PLYMOUTH ENERGY’S Brian Hermelbracht, right, farm commodities manager for Plymouth Energy, serves sweet rolls to welcome, from left, Travis and Kaylene Hawkins, of Akron, and Cody Griffin, of Moville, a representative of Farm Credit Services in Sioux City, as they arrive to tour the Merrill ethanol facility.

Young Farmer member Jim Korver, of Maurice, said he appreciated the chance to learn more about the plant.

It’s “an important networking opportunity,” he said, for young farmers like himself to see first hand how the livestock feeds from renewable energy operations are produced.

Farming on his own north of Le Mars for the past three years, Korver operates an independently owned hog feeding operation, raising between 300 and 1,000 head of isowean pigs.

Korver explained he’d been a Young Farmer member since the area group organized along with others across Iowa in 2012.

Cody Griffin, of Moville, said his interest in the day’s tour was not only that of a small livestock producer, but as a representative of Farm Credit Services, Sioux City, a producer-owned cooperative serving Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming.

APPROXIMATELY 400 TONS of wet distiller’s grain and an additional 200 tons of dry distiller’s grain is produced daily at the Plymouth Energy plant in Merril. The DDG is marketed largely to livestock, dairy and poultry producers within a 40-mile radius of the plant.

“Services such as ours play a crucial role in the success of today’s young and beginning farmers,” he said. “What we see today is a pretty significant increase in those wanting to begin farming.

“An event like this offers a means of keeping in touch and learning what the young or beginning farmer feels is important in order to be successful.”

There are opportunities out there, Griffin said. “With no two farming operations being alike we assist this level of farmers with helping to find the niche that can give them a competitive advantage in their operations and to be sustainable in agriculture.”

Griffin said in providing this financial guidance he has also observed the increased role of the farm wife in learning what is required to be successful.

“Some may work alongside their husbands,” he said, and “others assist with the paper work necessary in farming.

“An event like this offers a means of ... learning what the young ... farmer feels is important in order to be successful.” —Cory Griffin Farm Credit Services

“In either instance, the farm wife may bring interesting perspectives and ideas to the table helping a young couple get off to a good start working together.”

The Young Farmer event was climaxed by an evening visit to Wells Blue Bunny, in Le Mars, for an evening meal and additional presentations by John Vote, USDA-FSA, Sioux County, and John Baker, of the Beginning Farmer Center, at Iowa State University.

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