The biggest question facing Roger Berry as he steps into the office this week as the Nebraska Ethanol Board's new administrator might be what he plans for an encore — or in this case, his second day of work.
On Friday, the day Berry was named to his new post, the Environmental Protection Agency announced a plan to allow year-round sales of gasoline mixed with 15% ethanol — a long-awaited promise by the Trump administration that could add fuel to what is already a multibillion-dollar industry.
"This is a big deal for Nebraska," Berry said.
So how does he top that on Day 2?
"I think we're going to sit and smile a little bit and celebrate this," he said, adding that he also plans to learn the layout of NEB's Lincoln headquarters.
The ethanol industry adds $3.5 billion annually to Nebraska's economy, Berry said. The year-round sale of E15 could expand that by as much as 50%, he said.
"To put it in a nutshell, this has the potential to be big for us," he said.
Berry is the former director of the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska and most recently served for three years as director of market development at the Nebraska Corn Board.
In that role, Berry, who got his start farming in Nebraska, worked with NEB staff on several ethanol-related endeavors.
"This new role allows me to delve deeper into ethanol," he said, noting his duties with the Corn Board encompassed several agricultural issues. "I'll be able to concentrate fully on ethanol now."
Berry figures to have a seamless transition, said NEB Chair Jan tenBensel.
"He is a familiar face who is well-known and well-respected in the ag community," tenBensel said in a news release. "He has notable, established relationships with commodity and trade groups both locally and nationally. Roger will be another great asset to the agency.”
Berry replaces Sarah Caswell, who resigned her position to spend more time with family.
“Roger is the right person to lead the work of the board at this crucial time for Nebraska’s ethanol industry," Caswell said in a news release. "His farming background and deep experience and knowledge of the industry will enable him — from day one — to effectively direct the work of the NEB and its staff to carry out the mission of the NEB to the benefit of Nebraska’s ethanol industry stakeholders."