Nebraska Ethanol Producers Poised for Next Level

Source: By Mark Palmer, Ethanol Producer Magazine • Posted: Monday, May 16, 2016

After nearly 20 years of policy work on Capitol Hill, at USDA, and in the association world, I moved the family to Lincoln, Nebraska, when I became the executive director of the Association of Nebraska Ethanol Producers. The move from Washington, D.C., to Lincoln will enable me to apply my biofuels background to running a state-based biofuels association.

Nebraska is the second largest ethanol state in the U.S., producing more than 2 billion gallons annually.  Since its inception in 2008, ANEEP has seen industry growth and, out of this expansion, the organization’s next step includes building an organizational apparatus.

For example, ANEEP entered into a service agreement with another Lincoln-based trade association providing ANEEP offices just steps away from the Nebraska state capitol.  With this arrangement, it also means ANEEP has its first established accounting and bookkeeping system.

Even more in the weeds than establishing a home, ANEEP is in the process of refining its corporate apparatus in recrafting bylaws and developing a corporate governance covenant. While narrow, these issues are meant to establish the identity of the trade association.
Before taking these steps, ANEEP put into place its government affairs team. Making sure it has the right advocacy and lobbying team in place for state government relations is critical, not just because of the policies that might impact the ethanol industry in Nebraska, but also because of how the Nebraska legislature functions.

The Nebraska state legislature is unique. It is a unicameral legislature (one body), that is term limited and considered nonpartisan.  It has a speaker, and a unicameral body of 49 senators.  In this climate anything can happen, and I mean, anything.  Upon arriving on the scene in Lincoln, ANEEP immediately needed to identify the right team because the legislative session was around the corner.

ANEEP also is poised to better engage the Nebraska congressional delegation in Washington. Because Nebraska is a national ethanol-producing powerhouse, we need to do a better job of engaging our three members of the U.S. House of Representatives and two U.S. senators.  The delegation may hear about the benefits of ethanol and the federal policies from a national perspective, but ANEEP’s role will be to apply those federal issues surrounding the renewable fuels standard, tax policy and higher level blends (E15, E85) to the Nebraska-based industry.  By giving a better Nebraska face to these national issues, members and staff will all be able to better relate and apply the federal policies to a Nebraska “home” perspective.

Furthermore, ANEEP is at the beginning stages of a strategic planning exercise to identify priorities for the short and long term.  The long-term issues, such as preparing key legislative issues to move in the unicameral legislature, will expand the existing ethanol industry in Nebraska.  In that process, we are asking ourselves:  How can we continue developing and expanding the ethanol industry in Nebraska, and make ethanol an even bigger contributor to the state economy, while growing our industry at a steady pace?

As part of the strategic planning process, ANEEP also will boost its industry relations through developing stronger collaborative partnerships and coalition development, including membership development and expansion. ANEEP sees potential in diversely growing its membership base in Nebraska to reflect the changing ethanol industry.  Going forward, ANEEP also will coordinate its communications among its members, state elected officials and the Nebraska congressional delegation.

To achieve our goals, ANEEP soon will begin a rebranding effort, developing a web site, upgrading to modern marketing and promotional materials, and utilizing social media engagement, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. ANEEP is in a transformational and transitional phase; a phase where the potential is infinite but then, so too, is the excitement.

Author: Mark Palmer, Executive Director, Association of Nebraska Ethanol Producers