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Wisconsin invests $3.25 million in state's ethanol industry

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Posted at 2:50 PM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-09 15:50:34-05

Wisconsin is providing $3.25 million in CARES Act money to assist producers of ethanol, which is not only an important fuel source but is also critical in the manufacture of dry ice.

The money is to assist the state's nine ethanol producers as some have experienced significant revenue losses amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Tony Evers' administration announced Wednesday.

Wisconsin's ethanol industry is not only crucial for the production of fuel, but also makes a key component of dry ice, carbon dioxide. The demand for dry ice has skyrocketed after vaccine manufacturers announced that dry ice will keep doses fresh as they are stored and distributed across the country.

“We are proud of the ways our state’s ethanol plants have adapted in order to keep running during COVID-19. These grants will be extremely helpful as we continue our important work," said President of the Wisconsin BioFuels Association Erik Huschitt in a statement Wednesday.

Makers of Wisconsin's most famous export - cheese - will also benefit from the investment from the state. The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association said in a statement Wednesday that they have been calling state and federal authorities to ramp up production of dry ice, not only for vaccine distribution, but to help the dairy industry.

Three companies, all maintaining manufacturing plants in Wisconsin, produce the majority of the world's supply of dairy cultures, which are used to ferment dairy products like cheese, yogurt and soured milk. Dairy cultures must be held at subzero temperatures before they are used.

“By supporting ethanol producers, Governor Evers is also helping to ensure availability of dry ice for the subzero food supply chain, which includes essential ingredients for dairy manufacturing," said WCMA Executive Director John Umhoefer in a statement.

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