Nebraska ethanol producers replace Schmit with former Durbin aide

Source: By NICHOLAS BERGIN, LINCOLN JOURNAL STAR • Posted: Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Association of Nebraska Ethanol Producers announced Mark Palmer will become its new executive director beginning Jan. 1, 2016, replacing Loran Schmit, considered one of the industry’s pioneers.

Palmer comes to Nebraska from the Washington, D.C., office of U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). In addition to his work as a senior policy advisor to Sen. Durbin, Palmer has promoted biofuels for the National Corn Growers Association, the American Soybean Association, and as the director of the Office of External Affairs for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“He is a guy that knows how to build bridges and work ‘em,” said Charlie Wilson of Trenton Agri Products in Trenton, one of the members of the association.

In a news release, the association’s president, Ted Free, said: “Representing the second largest ethanol producing state, (the association) is poised to expand and grow its voice in state, regional and national discussions on the future of renewable fuels. We are confident that Mark is the right person to lead ANEEP through this period.”

Founded in 2008, the association announced a reorganization earlier this year to bring its staff and management in-house. From its founding through the end of 2015, the management and operations have been outsourced to Schmit Industries and executive director Loran Schmit, a former state senator. Schmit wished the association and Palmer well.

The 85-year-old Schmit has been promoting ethanol since the 1950s. He helped pass legislation in 1971 that established the precursor to the Nebraska Ethanol Board, known as the Gasohol Committee. His efforts earned him the moniker “father of gasohol.”

“ANEEP will always be indebted to Loran Schmit for everything he’s done to promote ethanol over many decades,” Free said “Loran provided a steady hand of leadership for ANEEP from day one, and his work for ethanol goes back much further – to the very beginning.”

Wilson said ANEEP is negotiating with Schmit to determine his future role with the organization. “Loran will continue to be a cheerleader for Nebraska ethanol regardless of what our future relationship is,” Wilson said.

Palmer will take over as director of the organization on January 1 and will establish an office within walking distance of the State Capitol building, Wilson said.

Nebraska has 24 ethanol refineries capable of  producing 2.0 billion gallons annually, the association said.