LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- Over the objection of EPA attorneys, a federal judge on Wednesday granted agriculture groups' motion to intervene in an ongoing lawsuit filed by 24 states challenging the Biden administration's waters of the U.S. rule.

Though the WOTUS rule took effect on March 20, the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota also is considering a motion filed by the states for a preliminary injunction.

Earlier this week the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas granted a preliminary injunction to the states of Texas and Idaho, while denying a motion to intervene and a motion for a national injunction filed by ag groups including the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The federal judge in North Dakota was much more lenient in granting ag groups' motion to intervene.

"In the Southern District of Texas litigation, as in this case, the defendants asserted no preliminary injunction should issue but, alternatively, asserted any injunctive relief should be geographically limited to the plaintiff states," Judge Alice R. Senechal said in the court's decision.

"Because defendants oppose nationwide injunctive relief, movants contend the only avenue open to organizations such as theirs with nationwide interests is to file separate actions covering the entire nation. And they point to litigation over the 2015 WOTUS rule -- where several courts enjoyed enforcement in only states that were parties to the litigation -- as 'instructive.' In fact, the injunction recently issued in the Southern District of Texas applies only in the two states that are plaintiffs in that case."

The court granted the ag groups' motion in part because otherwise they would face the possibility of filing separate lawsuits in the each of the 24 states.

States filing the lawsuit include Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming. Their lawsuit alleges EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have "toppled the cooperative federalism regime" by implementing a rule that is "overbroad and hopelessly vague."

The interest groups allowed to intervene include the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Petroleum Institute, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Pork Producers Council, Public Lands Council, U.S. Poultry and Egg Association as well as state-level ag groups and construction interest groups.

"Keeping in mind the premise that any doubts should be resolved in favor of intervention, in this court's view, movants have established that their interests are not adequately protected by the existing parties," the court said.

The 24 states have asked the federal court in North Dakota to vacate the Biden administration's iteration of the WOTUS rule and to find it unlawful, and to prevent the agencies from enforcing the rule.

Read more on DTN:

"Aggies Join 24-State Lawsuit vs. WOTUS,"…

"EPA Opposes Ag Intervention in WOTUS,"…

Todd Neeley can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @DTNeeley

OMAHA (DTN) -- Everyone in Congress loves "cutting-edge" agricultural research, they just don't pay for it very well.

The result is that dollar for dollar, U.S. agricultural research spending actually declined over the past decade while China, the European Union, India and Brazil -- among others -- have increased their investments in agricultural research dollars. Groups committed to boosting ag research spending in the farm bill want nearly $7 billion more in committed mandatory spending over the next decade.

Still, that desire for cutting-edge agricultural research was spotlighted last week when a pair of senators and congressmen rolled out the ACE Agriculture Act. In their news release, the lawmakers said their bill would take a program called the Agriculture Advanced Research and Development Authority (AgARDA) at USDA and double its existing funding authorization from $50 million to $100 million "to ensure access to more transformative agricultural innovation projects across multiple states."

The news release from Sens. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Roger Marshall, R-Kan., as well as Reps. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, and Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., was full of praising quotes from groups backing the bill and talking about the importance of AgARDA, the return on investment, its value to help with pathogens, disease and extreme weather.

"Reauthorization of AgARDA will allow the Department of Agriculture to partner with public research institutions on rewarding advanced research initiatives that preserves the United States' role as a global agriculture leader amid a changing economic landscape," Marshall said in the news release.

The only problem is AgARDA really only exists on paper. Set up in the 2018 farm bill as USDA's answer to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), there's no research being done under the AgARDA umbrella. While AgARDA was "authorized" to spend $50 million a year, that's discretionary money. Last year, Congress gave the project $1 million. AgARDA isn't mentioned in USDA's budget proposal for fiscal year 2024.

"We don't have the committed resources" to launch a program, Chavonda Jacobs-Young, USDA undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics at USDA, told senators in a hearing back in December.


The farm bill right now has about $1.3 billion carved out over the next 10 years for mandatory research dollars in the farm bill. USDA's research budget is much larger than that -- about $4 billion per year overall -- but largely falls under discretionary spending approved annually by Congress.

USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has an annual budget for fiscal year 2023 of $1.89 billion. The National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) at USDA spends about $1.96 billion. NIFA, created in the 2008 farm bill, largely doles out competitive grants. The biggest single chunk of NIFA's budget is the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) at $455 million in FY 2023. The Biden administration has asked to increase that by $95 million for FY 2024.

The research community is growing increasingly concerned about stagnant funding in the research programs and the U.S. losing its competitive edge in agricultural research and development (R&D) to China.

Earlier this month, a collection of more than 50 various groups wrote House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders with one of the biggest asks for the next farm bill. They want $8 billion in mandatory funding for the research title of the farm bill "to spur scientific breakthroughs, keep pace with our global competitors, modernize facilities and ensure nutrition security and a sustainable food system."

Advocates for research funding highlighted some of their concerns earlier this week at a policy forum in Washington, D.C., hosted by Agri-Pulse Communications.

"It's really important for our competitiveness," said Karl Anderson, president of Supporters of Agricultural Research Foundation. "If we want to remain a world leader, if we want to remain competitive, we have to make those investments."

"It's mission-critical that we think about the research needs and the facility needs ... and we've got to go big. We've got to try something different -- that we need to make the case that research should be a larger part of the farm bill."

Andy LaVigne, president and CEO of the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA), agreed. LaVigne noted that various groups will nod their heads and say they support more research funding until the final priorities for the farm bill are called out. Then, those programs lose out in the final throes of farm-bill lobbying.

"We've been talking about doubling funding for research since the late '80s," LaVigne said.


Paul Patterson, dean of the College of Agriculture at Auburn University, shared a story with DTN last week about some of the problems with land-grant universities that saw significant construction projections following World War II and still rely on those buildings.

"These laboratory buildings are now 60 to 70 years old, and they are at the end of their life," he said.

Patterson then pointed to a soil-testing laboratory on campus that students and faculty call "fungus hall," adding, "The building itself just has a strange smell."

The building has a dilapidated HVAC system with temperature fluctuations so severe that it interferes with the scientific instrumentations. The temperature fluctuations also affect chemical stability, which can lead to safety issues.

"It's uninspiring to the faculty, it's uninspiring to students, it makes it more difficult for me to recruit faculty to that building," Patterson said.

Patterson pointed out that from 2012-2021, U.S. agricultural investment increased by about 2.2%. Given that inflation rose about 18% over that time, "We've actually seen a 16% reduction in real inflation-adjusted spending on R&D," he said.

The Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU) cites it would take about $11.5 billion nationally to upgrade the agricultural research facilities on land-grant campuses nationally. Tearing them down and rebuilding them would cost roughly $38 billion.

"I'm talking about scientists trying to conduct research, 21st century research, cutting-edge research, in buildings that were constructed during the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations," said Wendy Fink, an associate vice president for food, agriculture and natural resources at APLU, at the Agri-Pulse event. She added, "The problem is there is a fungus hall across every single land-grant campus across the country,"

Fink also noted there are roughly 60,000 job openings for people with bachelor's degrees in areas involving food, agriculture and natural resources. About 36,000 people graduate with degrees in those fields.

"If you want to invest in that next generation of scientists, you need to invest in your future."


The agricultural R&D spending in China has grown exponentially in recent years while U.S. funding has stayed flat. Wayne Watkinson, a founding partner of Watkinson Miller, who represents several agricultural checkoff programs, pointed out that when the Chinese government decides to fund an agricultural research project, there's no annual debate needed about the funding.

"There's no question. When they decide they are going to do it, they fund it," Watkinson said. "We put it in the discretionary budget where we have to fight for the dollars just to get them. It's a different system. We have to recognize that, and we have to deal with it."

A House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Research and Biotechnology will also hold a hearing Thursday to review USDA implementation of research programs in the farm bill. USDA's Jacobs-Young is set to testify.

A June 2022 USDA ERS Report on agricultural research investments:…

Also see "US Falling Behind in Ag Research With Heavy Demands on Science" here:…

Chris Clayton can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

OMAHA (DTN) -- Retail fertilizer prices tracked by DTN for the second full week of March 2023 continue to show lower levels. This trend has been in place for two and a half months.

All eight of the major fertilizer prices are once again lower compared to last month. Five of the eight fertilizers had a substantial price decline. DTN designates a significant move as anything 5% or more.

Leading the way lower was anhydrous. The nitrogen fertilizer was 13% lower compared to last month and had an average price of $1,059/ton.

UAN28 was 11% less expensive looking back a month and had an average price of $428/ton. UAN32 was 9% lower compared to a month earlier and had an average price of $521/ton.

Urea was 7% less expensive compared to the previous month with an average price of $638/ton. Potash was 5% lower compared to last month with an average price of $655/ton.

The remaining three fertilizers were all just slightly lower compared to the prior month. DAP had an average price of $825/ton, MAP $821/ton and 10-34-0 $740/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.69/lb.N, anhydrous $0.65/lb.N, UAN28 $0.76/lb.N and UAN32 $0.81/lb.N.

Natural gas, the main building block of many fertilizers, saw a wildly turbulent year in 2022 with prices and most expect the turbulence isn't going to calm down anytime soon, according to Dow Jones.

Last year was the most volatile on record for natural gas prices, as prices swung from unseasonable lows to record highs and back again. Benchmark gas futures swung by at least 7% on 44 days last year, the most since at least the early 1990s when gas markets were deregulated, and modern trading began.

Analysts, traders and big gas buyers expect this kind of instability to become the norm. Many coal-fired power plants have been retired without wind and solar farms ready to replace their output, pressuring utilities to pay up for gas.

The severe swings even diverge across U.S. regions.

This winter, gas prices in California surged to more than six times the national benchmark price at the time. Unusually warm weather, meanwhile, cut heating demand in part of the country this winter and knocked prices in February below a threshold rarely breached over the past 20 years.

All fertilizers are now double digits lower compared to one year ago. DAP is 15% less expensive, 10-34-0 is 16% lower, MAP is 18% less expensive, potash is 22% lower, UAN32 is 26% less expensive, anhydrous and UAN28 are both 30% lower and urea is 33% less expensive compared to a year prior.

DTN gathers fertilizer price bids from agriculture retailers each week to compile the DTN Fertilizer Index. DTN first began reporting data in November 2008.

In addition to national averages, MyDTN subscribers can access the full DTN Fertilizer Index, which includes state averages, here:….

Fertilizer prices moved higher in 2022 on supply side issues but are lower in 2023, according to University of Minnesota agricultural economist. You can read it here:….


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Russ Quinn can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @RussQuinnDTN

Farmers naturally find plenty of common ground when it comes to discussing their occupations. But Minnesota farmer Bob Worth and Kansas farmer Keith Miller have cultivated a bond during the last 17 years that runs deeper than most.

The two farmers participated in DTN's View From the Cab series in 2006. They came to know each other by reading the weekly installments of the diary-like features that follow two farmers throughout the growing season.

Still, it would be several years before they finally met in person and that meeting was also remarkable. "We were in China -- I was representing the American Soybean Association and Keith was representing the U.S. Meat Export Federation," recalled Worth. "We found ourselves sitting at the same table and realized we had gone half-way around the world to finally meet."

Since then, the two men have remained in contact -- most often crossing paths when tending to commodity organization responsibilities. This past week the two farmers sat down with DTN during Commodity Classic to reminiscence about the changes in their lives and the miracle of becoming and remaining friends thanks to a long-ago project.


Technology that allows farmers to fine-tune operations and be more efficient has changed the farming landscape, both farmers agreed. But their focus these days is working to find fair and equitable ways to transition to the next generation.

Since 2006, Worth has intentionally scaled back operations slightly. He and wife, Gail, packed their bags and moved to nearby Lake Benton to allow son, Jon, and his family, the opportunity to live on the homeplace.

"Getting him in the middle of where everything is happening was an important part of our succession plan," Worth said. "I'm still actively farming when needed, but I felt it was important for Jon be in a position of leadership from early on." He's still working through some of the particulars on how to treat an off-farm heir.

Miller, who farms near Great Bend, Kansas, has almost quadrupled the size of his diversified livestock and cropping operation since 2006. A good chunk of that growth has been on the haying side of the ledger.

His daughter, Dara, and her husband, Jason Prescott, and a nephew, Brad Birzer, have been assuming leadership roles in the farm enterprises during the past few years. Miller also has off-farm heirs and is still weighing how to deal with the fairness issue. It's a topic that is close to home.

"All three daughters, their families, which includes seven grandchildren, live within 10 miles of the farm. We talk all the time. We are together all the time. When it's time for harvest, we may have 10 people working in the fields and only one be someone from outside the family," he said. "Those that work off the farm often take vacation just to help."


No farmer discussion is complete without an eye toward the weather. Last year, rains pushed Worth late into the season with planting. Meanwhile, Miller was gasping for moisture -- a situation that hasn't improved much.

"We put in a new weather station last year and since June 2022, it had recorded 4 inches and 20/100ths," Miller said on March 10, 2023.

The stress of drought and what comes with it can take a toll. Both Worth and Miller aren't afraid to talk candidly about the mental health issues that farmers face. They urged farmers feeling overwhelmed to find someone to talk to and seek professional help.

"I've been very open about my bouts with depression," Worth said. "Life got better when I found professional help and I'm happy to talk about that if it helps just one person to hear it."

Finding a bond with a fellow farmer that understands and will listen is also invaluable, they both agreed. "It's amazing that we have this relationship from a story done years ago," Worth added.


Editor's note: Watch for additional updates from past View From the Cab participants and the new 2023 View from the Cab series to launch in May.

Pamela Smith can be reached at

Follow her on Twitter @PamSmithDTN

Sacrifice is a well-known concept on most family farms and ranches. A person, or a group of people, gives up something like money or time for the benefit of someone else, for example, family members or future generations.

Sometimes, this idea of sacrifice is discussed openly among family members. It's specifically identified as a value of the family, and stories are told of past sacrifices. Other times, sacrifice is expected but not necessarily named; it's an unspoken requirement of those participating in the family business.

As businesses transition from one generation to the next, the type of sacrificial behavior expected, or offered, might change. Generational differences, the involvement of in-laws and improved financial conditions may cause the idea of sacrifice to be understood differently than how it was defined in the past, which is why it's important to talk about sacrifice and what it currently means to family members involved in business together. Consider these types of sacrifice and how they apply to your family company.

-- Sacrifice as a gift. Often, the idea of sacrifice has a beneficial connotation. Someone suffered in the past so that others could benefit in the future. For example, one generation of family members might sacrifice taking money out of the business and might even put more money in the business so future generations have a stronger organization. This might include buying and paying for land, choosing to pay down debt or going without certain comforts so future generations have it a little bit easier.

-- Sacrifice as a necessity. Sacrifice is sometimes necessary for the survival of the business. A farmer might sacrifice time with others to harvest the crop. A rancher might sacrifice sleep so newborn calves are cared for. A shortage of employees might require all hands on deck and, thus, sacrifice personal or social activities in order to get things done. A business might also forego investments in equipment or inputs for a short time to achieve an improved financial position.

-- Sacrifice as a crutch. Sacrifice can also be used in unhealthy ways in the family business. For example, compensation might be kept low ostensibly because of sacrifice when the real issue is the business' lack of financial performance or too many family members working in the company.

In other cases, sacrifice is used as a way for parents to avoid hard choices about succession planning and the process of letting go. Adult children are expected to sacrifice any sense of clarity about the family business transition, their roles and their financial certitude for the sake of broader family harmony or their parents' privacy.

Unfortunately, what usually happens is the family falls apart once the parents pass away. Conflict the parents hoped to avoid has been unwittingly guaranteed.

People also sacrifice their physical and mental health for the continuation of the business. They endure emotional stress or extreme physical pain in hopes of continuing as is only to wind up causing irreparable harm to their bodies, their relationships with others or their remaining years as emotionally healthy family participants. Other family members see the effects of that sacrifice and decide not to continue, thereby negating its value.

In these more errant cases, the notion of sacrifice may perpetuate the business for a while but eventually ruin the economic viability or family relationships necessary for long-term success.

Sacrifice can still be a wonderful and aspirational value to celebrate in the family farm and ranch. Discussing how best to promote the idea of sacrifice with your family business partners will serve you well.


Write Lance Woodbury at Family Business Matters, 2204 Lakeshore Dr., Suite 415, Birmingham, AL 35209, or email

Farmers continued their pursuit of technology last month, evidenced by the large number of combines they are buying.

From the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) on Monday comes the monthly Ag Tractor and Combine Report, this one for February 2023. Sales last month rose a fairly astounding 165% over February 2022, a few percentage points more than the 132% increase recorded in January this year, over January 2022. In the month just ended, manufacturers sold 530 combines compared to 200 in February 2022. For the first two months of this year, compared to January and February 2022, combine sales are up just shy of 150% (1,007 combines sold this year, compared to 405 combines during the first two months of 2022).

"With the technology in today's equipment, especially in new harvesters, it's no surprise to see that segment continuing to grow as farmers look to increase the yields they can get with these new units," Curt Blades, senior vice president, industry sectors and product leadership, AEM, said in a release. "On the tractor side, most of those losses are the result of overly hot sales of small units during the pandemic. With overall sales reverting to near their five-year average, this is more a return to normal than anything else."

Tractor sales overall were down in February and are down for the year. However, as Blades said, the decline is seen clearly in the sale of tractors, 100 hp and below. February sales of less than 40 hp tractors were down 25.6%, while sales of tractors 40 to 100 hp were down 12.9%, both compared to February 2022. Small tractor sales also were down in January and have been for months, in a strong reversal of under 100 hp small tractor sales during the heart of COVID.

Positive news for tractors comes in higher horsepower sales. Sales of two-wheel drive, 100+ hp tractors were up 2.7% in February and are up 12.8% for the year, compared to February 2022 and the first two months of 2022. Four-wheel drive tractor sales are up a strong 55% in February 2023 (up 94 units) compared to a year earlier and 22.5% for the year, compared to the first two months of 2022.

Dan Miller can be reached at

OMAHA (DTN) -- Federal bank regulators announced late Sunday that depositors at the Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) will have access to all their money Monday morning, but the failure of the bank still raises the possibility that a significant number of food and ag-tech startups could be affected by the situation.

SVB failed on Friday, and it has created an immediate domino effect in some industries.

The combination of wealth from high-tech firms and creative thinking on the West Coast has led San Francisco and Silicon Valley to be a center for companies focused on new ideas in food such as plant-based and cell-based production and addressing problems such as food waste.

SVB frequently spotlighted investments in alternative proteins and vertical farming companies in its internal analysis in recent years.

In February, the tech magazine Fast Company looked at vertical farming challenges, noting the possible "bubble" in industry investment. (…)

People who have made money in Silicon Valley have shown great interest in investing in food startups of all kinds, and the companies' banking relationships are often in institutions in the San Francisco Bay area.

SVB also is a backer of alternative meat companies such as Beyond Meats and touted similar companies as part of its portfolio. (…)

National Public Radio reported over the weekend that Shelf Engine, a Seattle-based food management startup that offers solutions to food waste, had its cash in SVB, and on Friday failed in an attempt to move its money to JP Morgan Chase.

Tech companies and startups aren't the only ones affected. The Wall Street Journal also reported Monday, "Hundreds of wine producers borrowed from the bank and deposited cash there, including some small, midsize and privately held businesses that are trying to make payroll or loan payments."

Federal deposit insurance covers deposits only up to $250,000, but many startup companies that raise venture capital had much more money than that at SVB.

Last week, companies became concerned that higher interest rates could make it difficult for SVB to do business and began withdrawing more money than SVB had on hand. On Friday, the federal regulators took over SVB amid fears that the contagion would spread to other banks. On Sunday federal regulators revealed that New York regulators had closed Signature Bank.

Late Sunday, the Federal Reserve, Treasury and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation announced in a joint statement that "depositors will have access to all of their money starting Monday, March 13."

President Joe Biden also said in a statement that at his direction, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen "and my National Economic Council director worked diligently with the banking regulators to address problems at Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank. I am pleased that they reached a prompt solution that protects American workers and small businesses and keeps our financial system safe. The solution also ensures that taxpayer dollars are not put at risk."

"The American people and American businesses can have confidence that their bank deposits will be there when they need them," Biden said.

"I am firmly committed to holding those responsible for this mess fully accountable and to continuing our efforts to strengthen oversight and regulation of larger banks so that we are not in this position again."

Biden also said he would deliver remarks "on how we will maintain a resilient banking system to protect our historic economic recovery."

Also see "Todd's Take: What Does the Failure of Silicon Valley Bank Mean to Ag Markets?" here:….

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation was named the receiver of SVB and took over its website and operations.

-- FDIC Information for Silicon Valley Bank, Santa Clara, CA…

-- Joint Statement by the Department of the Treasury, Federal Reserve, and FDIC…

-- Federal Reserve System Board of Governors -- Federal Reserve Board announces it will make available additional funding to eligible depository institutions to help assure banks have the ability to meet the needs of all their depositors…

Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @hagstromreport

Chris Clayton can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

MT. JULIET, Tenn. (DTN) -- The value of farm real estate climbed significantly in 2022, but higher interest rates slowed the upward march, instead of bringing it to a halt, like the housing market.

On average, the value of non-irrigated cropland gained 15% in 2022, according to quarterly surveys by Federal Reserve district banks that were compiled by the Kansas City Federal Reserve.

"Farm real estate values increased considerably in 2022 but showed signs of softening during the final months of 2022 as interest rates rose sharply," wrote KC Fed economists Cortney Cowley and Ty Kreitman. "While the value of most types of farmland continued to rise, the increase was the slowest since early 2021."

Interest rates on agricultural loans jumped to decade highs, reflecting increases in the Federal Funds Rate, which is what the Federal Reserve Open Markets Committee adjusts throughout the year. On average, interest rates on agricultural loans climbed by 150 basis points, or 1.5% from the previous quarter. They're about 300 basis points higher than at the same time last year.

"Benchmark interest rates surpassed returns to farmland owners in recent months, which could put some downward pressure on growth in farmland values going forward," Cowley and Kreitman wrote.

For farmland, capitalization rates are computed as a ratio of cash rents to farmland values. It's been decreasing continuously over the last 15 years. In the Kansas City district, for example, the cap rate fell from 5.4% in 2009 to 3% at the end of 2022. Returns are even lower in the Dallas region, below 2%.

"Conversely, risk-free rates of return rose dramatically in 2022, and the average yield of a 3-month Treasury was 4.2% at the end of the year," they wrote.

Bankers report that strong incomes are supporting repayment rates and overall credit conditions, but they are reporting some softening, with the pace of improvement slowing in the Kansas City and St. Louis districts, while holding steady in Dallas and Minneapolis.

"The outlook for agricultural credit conditions looking ahead into 2023 also remained generally positive, despite some ongoing concerns," Cowley and Kreitman wrote. "Elevated commodity prices continued to support profit opportunities for many producers across the farm sector, but concerns about operating expenses, higher interest rates and intense drought persisted. While improvement in farm income and credit conditions has softened slightly in recent months, farm finances remained strong following especially strong agricultural economic conditions the past two years."

You can read the entire article, "Growth in Farmland Values Slows Amid Higher Interest Rates," here:….

Katie Dehlinger can be reached at

Follow her at @KatieD_DTN on Twitter

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- ClearFlame Engine Technologies' ethanol-diesel engine took another leap toward commercialization, as the company secured $30 million in investments from two repeat investors and a handful of new investors. The funding is expected to help ClearFlame commercialize its technology first in long-haul trucks.

Mercuria Energy Group and Breakthrough Energy Ventures made a second round of investments in ClearFlame. Those companies originally were part of a 2021 $17 million investment round secured by ClearFlame. John Deere also was part of that 2021 financing round.

In addition, ClearFlame received funding from several first-time investors in the technology. New investors include mining company Rio Tinto and WIND Ventures, the strategic venture arm of Copec -- one of Latin America's leading mobility and energy companies.

ClearFlame CEO and co-founder BJ Johnson said the new round of funding will propel the ethanol-diesel technology to market.

"ClearFlame continues gaining momentum with technology that heavy-duty equipment users can deploy to more quickly and affordably meet critical ESG (environment, social and governance) goals," Johnson said in a news release.

"Federal Department of Energy funding moved us from concept to patent. Series A funding propelled us from patent to pilot. This latest investment round can accelerate us from pilot to proven product in multiple markets, starting with long-haul trucks."

ClearFlame's patented technology runs on a range of renewable liquid fuels. It can adapt to markets like long-haul trucking, offering the same power, durability and performance as today's diesel engines while readily integrating into existing manufacturing, fueling, maintenance and repair ecosystems, the company said in a news release.

The company is piloting five trucks in collaboration with some of the largest fleet operators in North America. It also is exploring partnerships and applications for the mining, agriculture and power generation sectors.

Diesel fuel consumption accounts for about 26% of overall carbon dioxide emissions from the U.S. transportation sector.

ClearFlame said while electric powertrains face "significant barriers" for heavy-duty applications, the company's technology can meet heavy-duty performance requirements while offering better lifecycle greenhouse gas emission reduction than electric vehicles by 61%.

"Mercuria was an early adopter of various environmental products in its portfolio and has committed more than 50% of all new investments to the energy transition," said Boris Bystrov, managing director at Mercuria.

"Mercuria's strategic investment in ClearFlame's technology reflects the company's continued commitment to renewable fuels as part of the energy transition and its belief that ClearFlame's technology can economically decarbonize the heavy-duty industry by utilizing the existing liquid-fueling infrastructure."

ClearFlame continues to receive attention for its technology. In September 2022, the company announced several strategic partnerships.

The company signed memorandums of understanding with Reviva and Vander Haag's Inc. to integrate the technology into a Class-8 truck. In addition, ClearFlame launched its first pilot fleet trial with Beck's, the largest family-owned retail seed company in the U.S. and third-largest seed brand.

Also, a coalition including Central Indiana Ethanol, CountryMark and Co-Alliance Cooperative Inc. partnered to sell E98, a 98% ethanol blend, to Beck's to fuel the pilot. The ClearFlame engine can run on 98% ethanol straight off the rack or even on E85 so long as the fuel is close to 85% ethanol.

As part of ClearFlame's agreements for engine modification, Minneapolis-based Reviva is integrating ClearFlame's kit into existing Cummins X15 engines that will carry two-year warranties.

Reviva is the largest privately held diesel engine remanufacturer in North America, and its engines are available at most aftermarket truck component suppliers and heavy truck dealers in the U.S. and Canada. Vander Haag's Inc., with nine locations throughout the Midwest, will be reinstalling the ClearFlame engines into Class-8 trucks.

ClearFlame said in September 2022 that it expects to achieve commercialization of its engine modification technology by the end of 2023.

In October 2020, ClearFlame announced the technology delivered 500 horsepower and more than 2,500 foot-pounds of torque, "while eliminating the need for additional aftertreatment such as selective catalytic reduction or diesel particulate filter systems."

A selling point for ClearFlame technology is it can replace petroleum fuels with ethanol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as particulate matter and smog, at the same time reducing overall engine cost.

The diesel sector spends about $3.3 billion on aftertreatment each year. Using ethanol in a diesel engine could save the sector $2.5 billion in aftertreatment costs, Johnson told DTN in a previous interview.

Read more on DTN:

"Ethanol Diesel Nudges Closer to Market,"…

"CEO of Ethanol-Diesel Engine Tech Company ClearFlame Sets Sights on Ag Equipment, Portable Generator Markets,"…

Todd Neeley can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @DTNeeley

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