Building An Ethanol Market At Home and Abroad: USGC Recognizes Craig Floss For 20 Years Of Service

His state had no farmer-owned ethanol plants in operation when Craig Floss first joined Iowa Corn as its new chief executive officer. This week, as the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) recognizes Floss for 20 years of service, Iowa is the top ethanol producing state, and Floss’s attention has turned to helping build demand for U.S. ethanol exports around the world.

“Watching that industry develop domestically, and specifically in our state, and then being able to watch how those ethanol plants prospered - it all started because we helped farmers get together and provided resources for long-term success,” Floss said. “It has been professionally satisfying to be part of the industry and to see it grow from what was really nothing to the number one producer in the country.”

His focus in Iowa on creating opportunity for long-term corn farmer profitability has also been a guiding force during his time of service to the Council.

“We love shipping corn, but we would much rather ship corn in the form of meat or distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS) or ethanol or some other high-value way because that means we are getting more turns in our economy locally, which helps the whole ag complex be more successful,” he said.

“Right now, our farmers know how to grow a lot of corn and our inventories are high. We think the greatest potential for demand growth is in exports - whether that is through corn, DDGS or ethanol. And the Council is involved in every one of those.”

Floss has had a front row seat for the Council’s pivots from emphasis on raw corn to corn gluten to polylactic acid to DDGS and now ethanol.

With his extensive involvement in the Council over the last 20 years, including as the checkoff sector director on the USGC Board of Directors, Floss has also traveled overseas to talk with customers in their home markets as well as hosted international buyers on farmers in Iowa to showcase how corn is grown and the farmers who grow it. Universally, the message is the same: trade matters, both to end-users looking for a reliable supply and farmers back home in Iowa.

“The great thing about the Council is we have always been able to identify new markets and also keep our top customers coming back not just for corn, but for corn in all forms,” Floss said. “I have been able to visit many of the international offices, and we really have an awesome staff, very knowledgeable, clearly experts in their field and know the markets. That has made the Council very successful.”