MDU Announces Natural Gas Line to Wahpeton

Montana Dakota Utilities (MDU) announced plans to increase the supply of natural gas to the Wahpeton Community. This comes after several years of advocacy for a solution by Wahpeton city leaders, legislators, and industrial partners.

Presently, Wahpeton-Breckenridge is supplied by Great Plains Natural Gas (GPNG) through a 6-inch, high pressure natural gas pipeline that originates in Vergas, MN as an 8-inch pipe. (GPNG is a subsidiary of MDU.) From Fergus Falls, it is reduced to a 6-inch pipe that serves the Fergus Falls Green Plains ethanol plant and the Wahpeton-Breckenridge area. During high demand circumstances, industrial users are often forced to reduce or shut down operations. This lack of natural gas capacity has resulted in missed opportunities for industrial expansion in the area.

MDU will split service at the state line with Breckenridge being served by the existing pipeline. A new 12 inch pipeline will be constructed from Mapleton, ND to Wahpeton and serve residential and industrial users on North Dakota side of the river. In addition, a new rate structure will offer firm gas to industrial users at an increased cost that appears to be reasonably priced. These users, including the ProGold Plant, have agreed to a ten-year contract at the proposed rate. The contract, however, will not result in an extended obligation if, for some reason, operations would cease.

MDU anticipates the new supply pipeline could begin operations in the fall of 2024.

The Golden Growers Board of Directors would like to thank the City of Wahpeton, community leaders, and MDU for their continued efforts. In particular, we would like to thank Mayor Steve Dale and State Representative Alisa Mitskog for their tireless advocacy for a solution. We also extend our appreciation for the work of former MDU employee and Wahpeton’s natural gas consultant, David Yexley, whose assistance was key. Unfortunately, Mr. Yexley passed away in March.

This new natural gas line is a  very positive step for the long-term viability of the ProGold plant and allows for future expansion at the site.

Pre-Dryer Repair Approved

In April, the ProGold Board approved the repair of the pre-dryer at the ProGold plant. This repair is considered a major capital expense where the cost is the financial responsibility of ProGold. Previously, repairs to the finish dryer were completed at an approximate cost of $1.6 million.

The pre-dryer, which is constructed much the same as the finish dryer, is having similar structural failures that are getting progressively worse. To accomplish the repair, a conveyor must be built so that the previously repaired the finish dryer will function as the pre-dryer. This bypass conveyer allows continued plant operations during the repair. It also adds redundancy for dryer functions should a major failure occur at some time in the future.

American Coalition for Ethanol Executive VP Brian Jennings Provides Ethanol Status Repor

Brian Jennings discussed ethanol production, demand, and policy issues in his guest presentation.

In 2020, we lost 700 million bushels of corn use for ethanol due to the pandemic. Domestic use dropped from over 14 Billion gallons in 2019 to just over 12 Billion gallons in 2020. “We are seeing a recovery in 2021, but don’t anticipate getting back to the pre-COVID levels in 2021 or even 2022.” After the bottom fell out of the domestic fuel market in March of 2020, there was a quick rebound by July to a level around 15 to 20% below normal. “Domestic demand has continued run at about a 15-20% reduction when compared to prior years,” said Jennings.

A change in administrations will have an impact on the ethanol industry. The Trump EPA can be summed up in two policy issues, one good and one bad. Under Trump’s EPA, E15 was approved for sale year-round across the U.S. Unfortunately, the same EPA granted nearly 90 small refinery waivers of the renewable fuels standard and eroded about 4 billion gallons of demand from statutory levels.

Biden campaigned aggressively against those waivers and has indicated that they will reverse course. The Biden EPA is focused on net-zero emissions by 2050. The question is, ‘What role will Ag and ethanol play?’ “We intend to go on offense. There is an opportunity to increase ethanol demand because corn ethanol GHG emissions are 50% cleaner than gasoline.” Jennings cautioned that they have work to do to convince some Biden officials of the value of corn ethanol.

Jennings addressed recent auto manufacturer announcements on electric vehicles (EVs). “In terms of supply, 97% of vehicles are internal combustion. Even the most aggressive projections on future sale of EVs will mean ethanol will play a significant role in reducing GHG well into the century.”

‘A Year Like No Other’, Harless highlights the challenges of 2020

Chairman Mark Harless reflected on the year of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on our personal lives, communities, and nation. He offered Golden Growers’ deepest sympathies to friends and families of numerous members who have died from the virus in the past year.

The pandemic had significant impacts on agriculture, according to Harless. Specific to corn milling, fewer cars on the road resulted in gas consumption at its lowest level since 1997, an ethanol production decline by over two billion gallons, and facilities idled or permanently closed. Corn based sweeteners lost business as bars, restaurants, and sporting events were severely restricted. On the positive side, as consumers shifted to online shopping, starch used for the production of cardboard boxes saw a significant increase in demand.

At the ProGold plant, Cargill made adjustments in operating procedures to keep their staff save and maintain uninterrupted operations. “They did a great job”, congratulated Harless. He also offered his congratulations to members for continuing their commitment to feeding the world despite risks involved.

Harless acknowledged some anxiety about policy changes at the federal level with a change in administration. “We do expect the Biden administration will take a different approach toward the ethanol industry. We anticipate fewer small refinery waivers to be approved. The focus on carbon reduction may benefit the renewable fuels industry,” stated Harless.

In the past year ProGold LLC continued to make investments in the plant. “Repair of the finish dryer was completed and the phased replacement of the distributive control system continues to move forward and on schedule,” relayed Harless. While acknowledging additional capital expenditures are likely for a 30 year old plant, Harless stressed that the ProGold plant continues to be in very good condition. There were no natural gas curtailments in 2020 due to a ‘bypass’ project at Fergus Falls that was completed in 2019. Natural gas supply continues to be an issue for the future, however. He indicated that local and state officials continue to work on our behalf on this matter.

As for the future, Cargill’s lease with ProGold continues through 2022, with the possibility of an additional year (through 2023). “While Cargill’s exclusive option to purchase 50% interest in the plant continues through 2021, ProGold will begin preparations for lease negotiations this year,” said Harless.

With vaccines rolling out and infection rates on the decline, Harless said, “We have hope for better days to come. Next year, we anticipate meeting you face to face at our annual meeting with a nice meal to follow.”

Board Elections – Vacancies in Next Two Years

Golden Growers members re-elected Larry Vipond (South District) and Scott Jetvig (At-Large Director) at the 2021 Annual Meeting. Pursuant to bylaw changes approved in 2019, the total number of Board members has now been reduced to nine.

At the 2022 Annual Meeting, there will be three vacancies to fill as three additional board members reach their term limits. Members who have an interest in serving on the Board should either visit with current or former Board members and/or contact our Executive Vice-President, Scott Stofferahn.

“In the next two years, we will have four vacancies to fill as current directors reach their term limits. I really encourage members who have an interest in serving on the Board to talk to one of our Directors or call the office.” Stofferahn specifically mentioned that women members should consider running for the Board. “Since 1995, we have had only one woman director.”

Notice: Golden Growers to hold ‘Virtual’ Annual Meeting

The 2021 Golden Growers Annual Meeting will be held through Remote Communication using GoToMeeting’s Conferencing Services starting at 9:30 am CDT on March 25th.  

Members received a letter and an email (for those who have provided an email address to Golden Growers) with instructions on how to connect with GoToMeeting.

If you do call in, you can view the presentation slides below and follow along.

2021 Annual Meeting Slides


Golden Growers Cooperative will hold its Annual Members Meeting on Thursday, March 25th. The meeting is tentatively planned for the Doubletree Conference Center, 825 E Beaton Drive, West Fargo, ND. However, the Board of Directors may decide to hold the meeting virtually if it appears that the coronavirus pandemic remains a risk to our members.

Members will have the opportunity to elect Directors to serve on the Golden Growers Board. Current directors up for re-election are:

  • Scott Jetvig, Hawley, MN (At-Large Director); and
  • Larry Vipond, Herman, MN (S District).

Directors Gary ‘Butch’ Jirak (C District); Les Nesvig (S District); and Bruce Speich (S District) will reach their term limit and due to the change in Bylaws approved at the 2019 Annual Meeting, their director positions will not be filled and the total number of Directors will be reduced to nine. We offer our sincere appreciation for Butch, Les, and Bruce’s wisdom and dedication to our cooperative.

Any member in good standing is eligible to be nominated to the Board in the district where the member is registered. If you are interested in serving on the Board or want more information about district elections, visit our website at or contact us at 701-281-0468 or

Anticipate a Direct Deposit Enrollment Letter in Mid-December

The Golden Growers Board had an extensive discussion about the value of Direct Deposit for members (assurance of accurate and timely receipt of distributions) and the cooperative (lower administrative costs). At the conclusion of that discussion, the Board approved a change in policy intended to gradually move all members to participate in Direct Deposit.

Changes are as follows:

  1. The reprint fee, for members not enrolling at the time of request, increases from $25 to $50 as of January 1, 2021;
  2. Starting January 1, 2022, GGC will charge an administrative fee of $75 for non-participating members; and
  3. GGC will require full participation in Direct Deposit as of January 1, 2023.

Direct Deposit was first utilized in October of 2017 with 250 members participating (16%). Over the past three years, we have had steady growth in participation with 1,111 members enrolled (73%) for the October payment. Participants have been pleased with the timely, seamless, and secure process for receipt of distributions. They also receive a mailed letter explaining the payment for their records.

Non-participating members will receive a letter in mid-December explaining the change in policy and encouraging participation prior to January Method A payment and the February distribution.

2021 Annual Delivery Agreement (Pool Election) Deadline is December 10th.

On October 5th, Golden Growers mailed the ‘Annual Pool Election’ letter offering members the opportunity to change their delivery method for the coming year. Only members who intend to change their delivery need to respond.

Once delivery methods are set, GGC is not able to change a member’s delivery obligation for the year. Therefore, if you plan to change from Method A (physical delivery) to Method B (GGC acts as your Agent) or visa versa, complete the Annual Delivery Agreement (ADA) printed on the back page of your October 5th letter and return it to the Golden Growers office no later than December 10th.

Note: If you have misplaced your Annual Election Letter and intend to change delivery methods, contact the Golden Growers Office for a replacement letter. (701-281-0468 or

A REMINDER: Method A Pool Participants have Delivery Choices
Provisions in the 2018 Grain Services agreement with Cargill allowed more options for Method A deliveries that may affect your annual delivery decision.

Key revisions to our Grain Services Agreement include:

  • Cargill is appointed by GGC as its grain buying agent to receive, make payment for, and report Method A corn deliveries. (Payments for delivered corn will be issued directly from Cargill.)
  • Affiliated Persons’ may deliver for a Method A member. Affiliated Persons include producers who: 1) Have a familial relationship to the Member; 2) Own or control more than 50% or has management rights over the Member; 3) Shares farming resources with the Member; or 4) Are an entity in which 50% ownership is by an immediate family member(s) of the Member.
    • Note: ‘Familial relationship’ and ‘immediate family member’ includes brothers, sisters, spouse, ancestors (parents, grandparents), and lineal descendants (children, grandchildren).
  • Cargill may pay Affiliated Persons for corn delivered on behalf of the Method A member.
    • Note: If a person not considered ‘affiliated’ delivers on behalf of a Member, Cargill will pay the Member directly.

We believe these changes allow Method A Pool participants more flexibility and provide for a more efficient process for the Cooperative.

2021 Pool Election Decision

Each year, Members have the opportunity to change their method of delivery by submitting a revised Annual Delivery Agreement (ADA). This is your only opportunity to change your method of delivery for the coming year.

You should have already received your Annual Delivery Election letter with the ADA form on the back page. If you intend to change your delivery method, return the form no later than December 10th.

Only members intending to change their delivery method need to respond. Members who deliver directly to the plant through the Method A pool have a $0.07/bushel advantage over members participating in the Method B pool. In 2020, 27% of bushels were delivered by members directly to the plant.