Market News & Headlines >> Ethanol Plants Shutting Down as Demand Tanks

U.S. ethanol producers are on track to shut about 2 billion gallons of annualized output by the end of this week because of a slump in demand for fuel amid efforts to contain the coronavirus, the head of the Renewable Fuels Association trade group told Reuters News Service on Monday. 

"It looks to us like we’re nearing 2 billion gallons of capacity on an annualized basis that was operating as recently as a month ago that we think by the end of this week will be offline," RFA President Geoff Cooper told Reuters. The U.S. blends about 15 billion gallons of ethanol into the nation's gasoline each year. 

Cooper said he was urging Congress and the Trump administration to help the industry and its workers. “We’re going to be advocating for measures that will help our producers retain their workers, period," he said. 

“We know a number of plants have already been forced to idle, we know more are coming and they don’t want to lose their workers," he said. 

U.S. ethanol prices have plunged this month along with crude oil and gasoline prices. Nearby CBOT ethanol futures hit an all-time low of 86.10 cents per gallon on Monday, which is down more than 37% from their mid-February level of $1.37.