In Memory of Orris “Orrie” Swayze, Biofuel Trailblazer

Bioethanol advocate Orrie Swayze, 78, of Wilmot, SD passed away on February 19 at the VA Medical Center in Sioux Falls, SD. Swayze was a retired farmer and bioethanol advocacy pioneer. He worked relentlessly for many years to promote the benefits of bioethanol, beginning in the early 1980s. 

Swayze was the founding vice president and president of the South Dakota Corn Growers Association, serving eight years in those two posts. He was an early leader in the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council and was instrumental in creating and defending the South Dakota ethanol producer incentive and the state ethanol gas tax exemption that allowed early plants, like POET’s facility in Scotland, SD, to produce successfully. A former Air Force fighter pilot, Swayze used his tenacity and courage in his quest to expand opportunities for biofuels.

“Orrie was truly ahead of his time,” said Jeff Broin, POET Founder and CEO. “He was a visionary, and even though he had no investment in a bioethanol plant early on, he invested countless hours in driving state policy for biofuels that allowed POET to be successful in South Dakota. He was a true trailblazer with the long-term vision and undying passion needed to help us grow this industry. We owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude for the decades he spent lobbying on behalf of biofuels. He will be greatly missed.”



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