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EX-32.2 - CERTIFICATION - HIGHWATER ETHANOL LLCex322-certification10x31x17.htm
EX-32.1 - CERTIFICATION - HIGHWATER ETHANOL LLCex321-certification10x31x17.htm
EX-31.2 - CERTIFICATION - HIGHWATER ETHANOL LLCex312-certification10x31x17.htm
EX-31.1 - CERTIFICATION - HIGHWATER ETHANOL LLCex311-certification10x31x17.htm
EX-10.57 - EX 10.57 2018 EXECUTIVE BONUS PLAN - HIGHWATER ETHANOL LLCex1057executivebonusplan.htm
UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
 
FORM 10-K
 
x
Annual report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
 
 
 
For the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017
 
 
 
OR
 
 
o
Transition report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
 
 
 
For the transition period from               to               .
 
 
 
COMMISSION FILE NUMBER 000-53588
 
HIGHWATER ETHANOL, LLC
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
 
Minnesota
 
20-4798531
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)
 
(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
 
 
 
24500 US Highway 14, Lamberton, MN 56152
(Address of principal executive offices)
 
(507) 752-6160
(Registrant's telephone number, including area code)
 
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act: None

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: Membership Units

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.
o Yes     x No

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Act.
o Yes     x No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.
x Yes     o No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files).
x Yes     o No

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K (§229.405 of this chapter) is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant's knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. x


Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See the definitions of "large accelerated filer," "accelerated filer" and "smaller reporting company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act:
Large Accelerated Filer o
Accelerated Filer  o
Non-Accelerated Filer x
Smaller Reporting Company o
 
Emerging Growth Company o
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. o

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).
o Yes     x No

As of April 30, 2017, the aggregate market value of the membership units held by non-affiliates (computed by reference to the most recent offering price of such membership units of $10,000) was $40,120,000. The Company is a limited liability company whose outstanding common equity is subject to significant restrictions on transfer under its Member Control Agreement. No public market for common equity of Highwater Ethanol, LLC is established and it is unlikely in the foreseeable future that a public market for its common equity will develop.

Indicate the number of shares outstanding of each of the issuer's classes of common stock, as of the latest practicable date:  As of January 24, 2018, there were 4,813.5 membership units outstanding.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

The registrant has incorporated by reference into Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K portions of its definitive proxy statement to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days after the close of the fiscal year covered by this Annual Report.


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INDEX

 
Page Number



2


CAUTIONARY STATEMENTS REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This report contains forward-looking statements that involve future events, our future financial performance and our expected future operations and actions. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terminology such as “may,” “will,” “should,” “expect,” “plan,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “future,” “intend,” “could,” “hope,” “predict,” “target,” “potential,” or “continue” or the negative of these terms or other similar expressions. These forward-looking statements are only our predictions based on current information and involve numerous assumptions, risks and uncertainties, including, but not limited to those listed below and those business risks and factors described elsewhere in this report and our other Securities and Exchange Commission filings.
Ÿ
Changes in the availability and price of corn and natural gas;
 
 
Ÿ
Reduction or elimination of the Renewable Fuel Standard;
 
 
Ÿ
Our ability to comply with the financial covenants contained in our credit agreements with our lenders;
 
 
Ÿ
Our ability to profitably operate the ethanol plant and maintain a positive spread between the selling price of our products and our raw material costs;
 
 
Ÿ
Results of our hedging activities and other risk management strategies;
 
 
Ÿ
Ethanol and distillers grains supply exceeding demand and corresponding price reductions;
 
 
Ÿ
Our ability to generate cash flow to invest in our business and service our debt;
 
 
Ÿ
Changes in the environmental regulations that apply to our plant operations and changes in our ability to comply with such regulations;
 
 
Ÿ
Changes in our business strategy, capital improvements or development plans;
 
 
Ÿ
Changes in plant production capacity or technical difficulties in operating the plant;
 
 
Ÿ
Changes in general economic conditions or the occurrence of certain events causing an economic impact in the agriculture, oil or automobile industries;
 
 
Ÿ
Lack of transportation, storage and blending infrastructure preventing ethanol from reaching high demand markets;
 
 
Ÿ
Changes in federal and/or state laws or policies impacting the ethanol industry;
 
 
Ÿ
Changes and advances in ethanol production technology and the development of alternative fuels and energy sources and advanced biofuels;
 
 
Ÿ
Competition from alternative fuel additives;
 
 
Ÿ
Changes in interest rates and lending conditions;
 
 
Ÿ
Decreases in the price we receive for our ethanol and distillers grains;
 
 
Ÿ
Volatile financial or commodity markets;
 
 
Ÿ
Our inability to secure credit or obtain additional equity financing we may require in the future;
 
 
Ÿ
Our ability to retain key employees and maintain labor relations; and
 
 
Ÿ
Decreases in export demand due to the imposition of tariffs by foreign governments on ethanol and distillers grains produced by the the United States.


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The cautionary statements referred to in this section also should be considered in connection with any subsequent written or oral forward-looking statements that may be issued by us or any persons acting on our behalf. We undertake no duty to update these forward-looking statements, even though our situation may change in the future. Furthermore, we cannot guarantee future results, events, levels of activity, performance, or achievements. We caution you not to put undue reliance on any forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this report.  You should read this report and the documents that we reference in this report and have filed as exhibits, completely and with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from what we currently expect.  We qualify all of our forward-looking statements by these cautionary statements.

AVAILABLE INFORMATION
 
Information is also available at our website at www.highwaterethanol.com, under “SEC Compliance,” which includes links to reports we have filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The contents of our website are not incorporated by reference in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

PART I

ITEM 1. BUSINESS

Business Development

Highwater Ethanol, LLC (“we,” “our,” “Highwater Ethanol” or the “Company”) was formed as a Minnesota limited liability company on May 2, 2006 for the purpose of constructing, owning, and operating a 50 million gallon per year ethanol plant near Lamberton, Minnesota. Since August 2009, we have been engaged in the production of ethanol and distillers grains at the plant. We have been operating at an annual rate of approximately 59.5 million gallons for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017. We expect that our production will be comparable during our 2018 fiscal year to our 2017 fiscal year. However, we have submitted an application to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to increase the emissions limits in our air permit to allow 70.2 gallons of production per year. As such, we anticipate that we may increase our production in the future.
On December 7, 2016, the board of governors declared a cash distribution of $345 per membership unit for the holders of units of record at the close of business on that date for a total distribution of $1,687,740. We paid the distribution on December 15, 2016. Subsequent to the fiscal year end, on November 15, 2017, the board of governors declared a cash distribution of $345 per membership unit for the holders of units of record at the close of business on that date for a total distribution of $1,660,658. We paid the distribution on December 18, 2017.

We added 600,000 bushels of additional grain storage at a cost of approximately $1,600,000. The grain storage was put into service in August 2017 and was funded with our existing credit facilities and cash generated from operations.

On September 28, 2017, we executed an Agreement for Electric Service (the "agreement") with Redwood Electric Cooperative, Inc. (the "Cooperative") which was effective on September 19, 2017, wherein we agreed to purchase, and the Cooperative agreed to sell, all of the electric power that we require for our ethanol plant. The agreement remains in effect until January 1, 2023. The agreement automatically renews for additional five year periods unless we give at least one year's written notice of termination prior to the expiration of the then current term or if the agreement is otherwise terminated in accordance with its terms.

Subsequent to the fiscal year end, on November 29, 2017, our senior lender, Compeer Financial f/k/a AgStar Financial Services, PCA,waived our violation, at October 31, 2017, of the $5,000,000 limitation on annual capital expenditures as set forth in the Second Amended and Restated Credit Agreement dated January 22, 2016.

Financial Information

Please refer to “ITEM 7 - Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” for information about our revenue, profit and loss measurements and total assets and liabilities and “ITEM 8 - Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” for our financial statements and supplementary data.

Principal Products

The principal products we currently produce at the ethanol plant are fuel-grade ethanol and distillers grains. In addition, we are extracting corn oil for sale. The table below shows the approximate percentage of our total revenue which is attributed to each of our products for each of our last three fiscal years.

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Product
 
Fiscal Year 2017
 
Fiscal Year 2016
 
Fiscal Year 2015
Ethanol
 
81
%
 
79
%
 
78
%
Distillers Grains
 
16
%
 
18
%
 
19
%
Corn Oil
 
3
%
 
3
%
 
3
%

Ethanol

Our primary product is ethanol. Ethanol is ethyl alcohol, a fuel component made primarily from corn and various other grains. The ethanol we produce is manufactured from corn. Although the ethanol industry continues to explore production technologies employing various feedstocks, such as biomass, corn-based production technologies remain the most practical and
provide the lowest operating risks. Corn produces large quantities of carbohydrates, which convert into glucose more easily than most other kinds of biomass. The Renewable Fuels Association estimates current capacity for domestic ethanol production at approximately 16 billion gallons as of October 27, 2017 with approximately 3% of that capacity idled.

An ethanol plant is essentially a fermentation plant. Ground corn and water are mixed with enzymes and yeast to produce a substance called “beer,” which contains about 10% alcohol and 90% water. The “beer” is boiled to separate the water, resulting in ethyl alcohol, which is then dehydrated to increase the alcohol content. This product is then mixed with a certified denaturant to make the product unfit for human consumption and commercially saleable.

Ethanol can be used as: (i) an octane enhancer in fuels; (ii) an oxygenated fuel additive for the purpose of reducing ozone and carbon monoxide emissions; and (iii) a non-petroleum-based gasoline substitute. Approximately 95% of all ethanol is used in its primary form for blending with unleaded gasoline and other fuel products. Used as a fuel oxygenate, ethanol provides a means to control carbon monoxide emissions in large metropolitan areas. The principal purchasers of ethanol are generally the wholesale gasoline marketer or blender.

Distillers Grains

The principal co-product of the ethanol production process is distillers grains, a high protein, high-energy animal feed supplement primarily marketed to the dairy, poultry, swine and beef industries. Dry mill ethanol processing creates three forms of distiller grains: Distillers Wet Grains with Solubles (“DWS”), Distillers Modified Wet Grains with Solubles (“DMWS”) and Distillers Dried Grains with Solubles (“DDGS”). DWS is processed corn mash that contains approximately 70% moisture. DWS has a shelf life of approximately three days and can be sold only to farms within the immediate vicinity of an ethanol plant. DMWS is DWS that has been dried to approximately 50% moisture. DMWS has a slightly longer shelf life of approximately ten days and is often sold to nearby markets. DDGS is DWS that has been dried to between 10% and 12% moisture. DDGS has an almost indefinite shelf life and may be sold and shipped to any market regardless of its vicinity to an ethanol plant.

Corn Oil
    
Since April 2014, we have been separating some of the corn oil contained in our distillers grains for sale. The corn oil that we produce is not food grade corn oil and therefore cannot be used for human consumption. However, corn oil can be used as the feedstock to produce biodiesel, as a feed ingredient and has other industrial uses.

Ethanol, Distillers Grains and Corn Oil Markets

As described below in “Distribution Methods” we market and distribute a majority of our ethanol, distillers grains and corn oil through professional third party marketers. Our ethanol, distillers grains and corn oil marketers make decisions with regard to where our products are marketed.

Our ethanol and distillers grains are primarily sold in the domestic market, however, as domestic production of ethanol and distillers grains continue to expand, we anticipate increased international sales of ethanol and distillers grains. However, due to high transportation costs, and the fact that we are not located near a major international shipping port, we expect a majority of our products to continue to be marketed and sold domestically.

Over the past fiscal year, exports of ethanol have increased with Brazil and Canada receiving the largest percentage of ethanol produced in the United States. India, the Philippines and South Korea have also been top destinations. In August 2017, Brazil implemented a tariff on ethanol imported from the united States that will be imposed after a 600 million liter quota is met.

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This tariff has resulted in a decline in ethanol demand from Brazil and is expected to continue to negatively affect demand in the future. In addition, export demand is more unpredictable than domestic demand.

Historically, the United States ethanol industry has exported a significant amount of distillers grains to China and Mexico with Vietnam receiving notable amounts. However, exports of distillers grains weakened during this past fiscal year. On January 10, 2017, China announced a final ruling in an antidumping and countervailing duty investigation related to distillers grains imported from the United States imposing anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties which contributed to a significant decline in demand from this top importer requiring United States producers to seek out alternatives markets. Vietnam also suspended United States exports in December 2016 due to its decision to ban certain fumigants used in the shipping of distillers grains. However, on September 6, 2017, the Vietnam government resumed imports of distillers grains from the United States which is anticipated to increase imports of distillers grains to that market.

All of the corn oil we produce is marketed and distributed in the domestic market.

Distribution Methods

Ethanol

We have an exclusive marketing agreement with RPMG, Inc. (“RPMG”) for the purposes of marketing and distributing our ethanol. Because we are an owner of Renewable Products Marketing Group, LLC (“RPMG LLC”), the parent entity of RPMG, our ethanol marketing fees are based on RPMG's cost to market our ethanol. Further, as an owner, we share in the profits and losses generated by RPMG when it markets products for other producers who are not owners of RPMG LLC. Our marketing agreement provides that we can sell our ethanol either through an index arrangement or at an agreed upon fixed price. The term of our marketing agreement is perpetual until terminated according to its terms. The primary reasons for termination would be if we cease to be an owner of RPMG LLC, if there is a breach which is not cured, or if we give advance notice to RPMG that we wish to terminate. Notwithstanding our right to terminate, we may be obligated to continue to market our ethanol through RPMG for a period of time after termination. Further, following termination, we agree to accept an assignment of certain railcar leases which RPMG has secured to service us. If the marketing agreement is terminated, it would trigger a redemption of our ownership interest in RPMG LLC.

Distillers Grains

We have a distillers grains marketing agreement with CHS, Inc. ("CHS") to market all the dried distillers grains we produce at the plant. Under the agreement, CHS charges a maximum of $2.00 per ton and a minimum of $1.50 per ton price using 2% of the FOB plant price actually received by CHS for all dried distillers grains removed by CHS from our plant. The agreement will remain in effect unless otherwise terminated by either party with 120 days notice. Under the agreement, CHS is responsible for all transportation arrangements for the distribution of our dried distillers grains. We market and sell our own distillers modified wet grains with solubles.

Corn Oil

We have a corn oil marketing agreement with CHS wherein CHS purchases all crude corn oil produced at the plant. CHS pays the actual price that CHS receives from its customers less a marketing fee, actual freight and transportation costs and certain taxes related to the purchase, delivery or sale of the corn oil. The agreement automatically renews for successive one-year terms unless terminated by either party in accordance with its terms.

Sources and Availability of Raw Materials

Corn Feedstock Supply

The major raw material required for our ethanol plant to produce ethanol and distillers grains is corn. To produce 50 million gallons of ethanol per year, our ethanol plant needs approximately 18.5 million bushels of corn, or approximately 50,000 bushels of corn per day, as the feedstock for its dry milling process.

Since July 2016, we have procured corn from CHS pursuant to a grain origination agreement (the "CHS Agreement"). In that agreement, we agreed to buy from CHS all of our requirements for feedstock grain meeting certain specifications. The CHS Agreement runs for an initial five-year term which commenced on July 27, 2016. The CHS Agreement shall automatically renew for successive one-year terms unless otherwise terminated in accordance with its terms. The CHS Agreement may also be terminated in the event of a breach by either party after a thirty-day notice of the breach and opportunity to cure. Under the CHS

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Agreement, we will notify CHS of our grain requirements, including volume and delivery dates, on or before the first and fifteenth day of each month. We will then provide to CHS a daily bid sheet for grain to be sold to the Company and CHS shall purchase the grain by separate purchase contracts at the basis prices, quantities and guidelines identified in the bid sheet using commercially reasonable efforts to obtain the lowest price available. All sales of grain by CHS will be done by separate sales contracts requiring delivery of grain to the Company at the facility. We will pay CHS the CBOT futures price less the weighted average of the basis prices plus a fixed fee per bushel of grain purchased.

The price at which we purchase corn depends on prevailing market prices. Increases in the price of corn significantly increase our cost of goods sold. If these increases in cost of goods sold are not offset by corresponding increases in the prices we receive from the sale of our products, these increases in cost of goods sold can have a significant negative impact on our financial performance. Corn prices were lower during our 2017 fiscal year compared to the same period in 2016 due primarily to a large 2016 corn crop which increased domestic corn supply and resulted in a larger carryover.

On November 9, 2017, the United States Department of Agriculture ("USDA") released a report estimating the 2017 corn crop at 14.6 billion bushels, down 4% from last year's production, with yields averaging 175.4 bushels per acre. The USDA forecasted area harvested for grain at 83.1 million acres, down 4% from 2016. If realized, this would be the highest yield on record for the United States. As a result, management expects that corn prices will remain lower through the winter of 2017. However, weather, world supply and demand, current and anticipated stocks, agricultural policy and other factors can contribute to volatility in corn prices.

Utilities

Natural Gas

Natural gas is an important input to our manufacturing process. We use natural gas to dry our distillers grains products to moisture contents at which they can be stored for longer periods. This allows the distillers grains we produce to be transported greater distances to serve broader livestock markets.
 
We have access to an existing Northern Natural Gas interstate natural gas pipeline located approximately one half mile from our ethanol plant. We entered into a natural gas service agreement with CenterPoint Energy Resources Corp., d.b.a. CenterPoint Energy Minnesota Gas (“CenterPoint”). CenterPoint constructed for us a pipeline from the Northern Natural Gas Company (“Northern”) Town Border Station. We purchase all of our natural gas requirements from CenterPoint's pipeline. This agreement will continue until October 31, 2019.

We also have an energy management agreement with U.S. Energy Services, Inc. (“US Energy”) pursuant to which US Energy is providing us with the necessary natural gas management services. Some of their services may include an economic comparison of distribution service options, negotiation and minimization of interconnect costs, submission of the necessary pipeline “tap” request, supplying the plant with and/or negotiating the procurement of natural gas, development and implementation of a price risk management plan targeted at mitigating natural gas price volatility and maintaining profitability, providing consolidated monthly invoices that reflect all natural gas costs. In addition, US Energy is responsible for reviewing and reconciling all invoices. In exchange for these services, we pay US Energy a monthly retainer fee.

We do not anticipate any problems securing the natural gas we need to operate our ethanol plant during our 2018 fiscal year.

Electricity

On June 28, 2007, we entered into an agreement for electric service with Redwood Electric Cooperative, Inc., (the "Cooperative") for the purchase and delivery of electric power and energy necessary to operate our ethanol plant. Upon execution of the agreement, we became a member of the Cooperative and are bound by its articles of incorporation and bylaws. This agreement remained in effect until September 19, 2017, when our new agreement with the Cooperative to purchase all of the electric power that we require for our ethanol plant became effective. The new agreement remains in effect until January 1, 2023. The agreement automatically renews for additional five year periods unless we give at least one year's written notice of termination prior to the expiration of the then current term or if the agreement is otherwise terminated in accordance with its terms. For the electric power provided, in addition to certain penalties and adjustments, we will pay the following rates: (i) a facility charge based on the then current net plant value; (ii) a per KWh energy charge at the then current wholesale rate including distribution losses and margin requirements; (iii) an additional demand charge for the entire monthly demand (kW) that is coincident to the peak demand; and (iv) an additional delivery charge for the entire monthly demand (kW) that is coincident to the peak demand. The rates are updated annually. The rates set forth in the agreement terminate in the event that our firm non-coincident peak demand

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is less that 2,000 kW for twelve consecutive months or our rolling twelve month non-coincident load factor is less than 60% for twelve consecutive months. Upon termination of the agreement by either party for any reason, we remain responsible for payment of the facility charge for what would have been the remaining portion of the term.

We do not anticipate any problems securing the electricity we need to operate our ethanol plant during our 2018 fiscal year.

Water

We require a significant supply of water. We currently obtain water from a high capacity well and through a pipeline that pipes water from a nearby rock quarry. However, during our 2015 fiscal year, we commenced a project to install a water pipeline to add an additional water source for our plant. This project was completed during the first quarter of our 2016 fiscal year. We acquired all of the necessary permits required for our water usage. Much of the water used in an ethanol plant is recycled back into the process. There are, however, certain areas of production where fresh water is needed. Those areas include the boiler makeup water and cooling tower water. Boiler makeup water is treated on-site to minimize all elements that will harm the boiler and recycled water cannot be used for this process. Cooling tower water is deemed non-contact water because it does not come in contact with the mash, and, therefore, can be regenerated back into the cooling tower process. The makeup water requirements for the cooling tower are primarily a result of evaporation. Much of our water can be recycled back into the process, which minimizes the discharge water. This has the effect of lowering wastewater treatment costs. We have assessed our water needs and determined we have an adequate supply.    

Research and Development

We continually conduct research and development activities associated with the development of new technologies for use in producing ethanol and distillers grains and the potential for implementation of biobutanol technology and commercial-scale production of biobutanol at our facility. We incurred costs associated with these activities for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017.

Patents, Trademarks, Licenses, Franchises and Concessions

We do not currently hold any patents, trademarks, franchises or concessions. We were granted a license by ICM, Inc. to use certain ethanol production technology necessary to operate our ethanol plant. The cost of the license granted by ICM, Inc. was included in the amount we paid to Fagen, Inc. to design and build our ethanol plant. We were granted a license by Butamax Advanced Biofuels, LLC ("Butamax") to use certain corn oil separation technology in exchange for payment of certain license fees which are subject to being reduced under the terms of the Agreements if the corn oil separation system does not meet certain performance goals.

Seasonality Sales

We experience some seasonality of demand for our ethanol, distillers grains and corn oil. Since ethanol is predominantly blended with gasoline for use in automobiles, ethanol demand tends to shift in relation to gasoline demand. As a result, we experience some seasonality of demand for ethanol in the summer months related to increased driving and, as a result, increased gasoline demand. In addition, we experience some increased ethanol demand during holiday seasons related to increased gasoline demand. We also experience decreased distillers grains demand during the summer months due to natural depletion in the size of herds at cattle feed lots and when the animals are turned out to pasture or are slaughtered. Further, we expect some seasonality of demand for our corn oil since a major corn oil user is biodiesel plants which typically reduce production during the winter months.

Working Capital

We primarily use our working capital for purchases of raw materials necessary to operate the ethanol plant. Our primary sources of working capital are cash generated by our operations and our Term Revolving Loan with AgStar Financial Services, PCA ("AgStar"). At October 31, 2017, we had approximately $13,000,000 available to draw on our Term Revolving Loan.
    
Dependence on One or a Few Major Customers

As discussed above, we have a marketing agreement with RPMG for the marketing, sale and distribution of our ethanol and have engaged CHS for marketing, selling and distributing our distillers dried grains with solubles and corn oil. We expect to rely on RPMG for the sale and distribution of our ethanol and CHS for the sale and distribution of our distillers dried grains with

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solubles and corn oil. Therefore, although there are other marketers in the industry, we are highly dependent on RPMG and CHS for the successful marketing of our products. Any loss of RPMG or CHS as our marketing agents could have a significant negative impact on our revenues. We market and sell our own distillers modified wet grains.

Federal Ethanol Supports and Governmental Regulation

Federal Ethanol Supports

The ethanol industry is dependent on economic incentives to produce ethanol. One significant federal ethanol support is the Federal Renewable Fuels Standard (the “RFS”). The RFS requires that in each year, a certain amount of renewable fuels must be used in the United States. The RFS is a national program that does not require that any renewable fuels be used in any particular area or state, allowing refiners to use renewable fuel blends in those areas where it is most cost-effective. The RFS statutory volume requirement increases incrementally each year until the United States is required to use 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2022. Starting in 2009, the RFS required that a portion of the RFS must be met by certain “advanced” renewable fuels. These advanced renewable fuels include ethanol that is not made from corn, such as cellulosic ethanol and biomass based biodiesel. The use of these advanced renewable fuels increases each year as a percentage of the total renewable fuels required to be used in the United States.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") has the authority to waive the RFS statutory volume requirement, in whole or in part, provided one of the following two conditions have been met: (1) there is inadequate domestic renewable fuel supply; or (2) implementation of the requirement would severely harm the economy or environment of a state, region or the United States. Annually, the EPA is required by statute to pass a rule that establishes the number of gallons of different types of renewable fuels that must be used in the United States which is called the renewable volume obligations. The statutory volumes and the EPA's volumes for 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 (in billion gallons) are as follows:
 
 
Total Renewable Fuel Volume Requirement
Portion of Volume Requirement That Can Be Met By Corn-based Ethanol
2014
Statutory
18.15
14.40
EPA Rule 11/30/2015
16.28
13.61
2015
Statutory
20.50
15.00
EPA Rule 11/30/2015
16.93
14.05
2016
Statutory
22.25
15.00
EPA Rule 11/30/2015
18.11
14.50
2017
Statutory
24.00
15.00
EPA Rule 11/23/2016
19.28
15.00
2018
Statutory
26.00
15.00
EPA Rule 11/30/17
19.29
15.00

If the volume requirements under the RFS were to be reduced, it could have an adverse effect on the market price and demand for ethanol which could negatively impact our financial performance.
    
In February 2010, the EPA issued additional regulations governing the RFS. These additional regulations have been called RFS2. The most controversial part of RFS2 involves what is commonly referred to as the lifecycle analysis of greenhouse gas emissions. Specifically, the EPA adopted rules to determine which renewable fuels provided sufficient reductions in greenhouse gases, compared to conventional gasoline, to qualify under the RFS program. RFS2 establishes a tiered approach, where regular renewable fuels are required to accomplish a 20% greenhouse gas reduction compared to gasoline, advanced biofuels and biomass-based biodiesel must accomplish a 50% reduction in greenhouse gases, and cellulosic biofuels must accomplish a 60% reduction in greenhouse gases. Any fuels that fail to meet this standard cannot be used by fuel blenders to satisfy their obligations under the RFS program. The scientific method of calculating these greenhouse gas reductions has been a contentious issue. Many in the ethanol industry were concerned that corn based ethanol would not meet the 20% greenhouse gas reduction requirement based on certain parts of the environmental impact model that many in the ethanol industry believed was scientifically suspect. However, RFS2 as adopted by the EPA provides that corn-based ethanol from modern ethanol production processes does meet the definition of a renewable fuel under the RFS program. Our ethanol plant was grandfathered into the RFS due to the fact that it was constructed prior to the effective date of the lifecycle greenhouse gas requirement and is not required to prove compliance with the lifecycle

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greenhouse gas reductions. Many in the ethanol industry are concerned that certain provisions of RFS2 as adopted may disproportionately benefit ethanol produced from sugarcane. This could make sugarcane based ethanol, which is primarily produced in Brazil, more competitive in the United States ethanol market. If this were to occur, it could reduce demand for the ethanol that we produce.
 
Most ethanol that is used in the United States is sold in a blend called E10. E10 is a blend of 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline. E10 is approved for use in all standard vehicles. Estimates indicate that the 2017 gasoline demand in the United States will be approximately 140 billion gallons. Assuming that all gasoline in the United States is blended at a rate of 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline, the maximum demand for ethanol is 14.0 billion gallons per year. This is commonly referred to as the “blending wall,” which represents a theoretical limit where more ethanol cannot be blended into the national gasoline pool. This is a theoretical limit because it is believed that it would not be possible to blend ethanol into every gallon of gasoline that is being used in the United States and it discounts the possibility of additional ethanol used in higher percentage blends such as E85 used in flex fuel vehicles. These higher percentage blends may lead to additional ethanol demand if they become more widely available and accepted by the market.

In June 2012, the EPA gave final approval for the sale of E15, gasoline which is blended at a rate of 15% ethanol and 85% gasoline, for use in vehicles manufactured in the model year 2001 and later. Although there have been significant steps towards introduction of E15 in the marketplace, there are still obstacles to meaningful market penetration by E15. Many states still have regulatory issues that hamper or prevent the sale of E15. In addition, sales of E15 may be limited because E15 is not approved for use in all vehicles, the EPA requires a label that may discourage consumers from using E15, and retailers may choose not to sell E15 due to concerns regarding liability. In addition, different gasoline blendstocks may be required at certain times of the year in order to use E15 due to federal regulations related to fuel evaporative emissions which may prevent E15 from being used during certain times of the year in various states.

A blender pump is a gasoline pump that can dispense a variety of different ethanol/gasoline blends. Blender pumps typically can dispense E10, E20, E30, E40, E50, and E85. These blender pumps accomplish these different blends by internally mixing ethanol and gasoline which are held in separate tanks at retail stations. The increased use of blender pumps may increase demand for ethanol by allowing gasoline retailers to provide various mid-level ethanol blends in a cost-effective manner and allowing consumers with flex-fuel vehicles to purchase more ethanol through these mid-level blends. However, the expense of blender pumps has delayed their availability in the market.

Effect of Governmental Regulation

The government's regulation of the environment changes constantly. We are subject to extensive air, water and other environmental regulations and we have been required to obtain a number of environmental permits to construct and operate the plant. It is possible that more stringent federal or state environmental rules or regulations could be adopted, which could increase our operating costs and expenses. It also is possible that federal or state environmental rules or regulations could be adopted that could have an adverse effect on the use of ethanol. For example, changes in the environmental regulations regarding the required oxygen content of automobile emissions could have an adverse effect on the ethanol industry. Plant operations are governed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”). OSHA regulations may change such that the costs of operating the plant may increase. Any of these regulatory factors may result in higher costs or other adverse conditions effecting our operations, cash flows and financial performance.

In late 2009, California passed a Low Carbon Fuels Standard ("LCFS"). The California LCFS requires that renewable fuels used in California must accomplish certain reductions in greenhouse gases which is measured using a lifecycle analysis, similar to the RFS. On December 29, 2011, a federal district court in California ruled that the California LCFS was unconstitutional which halted implementation of the California LCFS. However, the California Air Resources Board ("CARB") appealed this court ruling and on September 18, 2013, the federal appellate court reversed the federal district court finding the LCFS constitutional and remanding the case back to federal district court to determine whether the LCFS imposes a burden on interstate commerce that is excessive in light of the local benefits. On June 30, 2014, the United States Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal of the federal appellate court ruling and CARB recently re-adopted the LCFS with some slight modifications. The LCFS could have a negative impact on demand for corn-based ethanol and result in decreased ethanol prices affecting our ability to operate profitably.    


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Competition

Ethanol

We are in direct competition with numerous ethanol producers, many of whom have greater resources than we do. Following the significant growth during 2005 and 2006, the ethanol in 213 ethanol production facilities in the U.S. with capacity to produce approximately 16 billion gallons of ethanol and six additional plants under expansion or construction with capacity to produce an additional 463 million gallons. However, the Renewable Fuels Association estimates that approximately 3% of the ethanol production capacity in the United States is currently idled.

Since ethanol is a commodity product, competition in the industry is predominantly based on price. We have also experienced increased competition from oil companies who have purchased ethanol production facilities. These oil companies are required to blend a certain amount of ethanol each year. Therefore, the oil companies may be able to operate their ethanol production facilities at times when it is unprofitable for us to operate. Larger ethanol producers may be able to realize economies of scale that we are unable to realize. This could put us at a competitive disadvantage to other ethanol producers. The ethanol industry is continuing to consolidate where a few larger ethanol producers are increasing their production capacities and are controlling a larger portion of the United States ethanol production. Further, some ethanol producers own multiple ethanol plants which may allow them to compete more effectively by providing them flexibility to run certain production facilities while they have other facilities shut down. This added flexibility may allow these ethanol producers to compete more effectively, especially during periods when operation margins are unfavorable in the ethanol industry.

The largest ethanol producers include Archer Daniels Midland, Flint Hill Resources, Green Plains Renewable Energy, POET Biorefining and Valero Renewable Fuels, each of which are capable of producing significantly more ethanol than we produce. The following table identifies the majority of the largest ethanol producers in the United States along with their production capacities.

U.S. FUEL ETHANOL PRODUCTION CAPACITY
BY TOP PRODUCERS
Producers of Approximately 750
million gallons per year (mmgy) or more
Company
Current Capacity
(mmgy)

 

POET Biorefining
1,662.0

Archer Daniels Midland
1,616.0

Green Plains Renewable Energy

1,461.0

Valero Renewable Fuels

1,400.0

Flint Hill Resources
820.0

Updated: October 27, 2017

The ethanol industry in the United States experienced increased competition from ethanol produced outside of the United States during 2012 which was likely the result of the expiration of the tariff on imported ethanol which expired on December 31, 2011. Although ethanol imports decreased since 2012, increased competition from ethanol produced in foreign countries, particularly Brazil, could have a negative impact on demand for ethanol produced in the United States which could result in lower operating margins.

We also anticipate increased competition from renewable fuels that do not use corn as the feedstock. Many of the current ethanol production incentives are designed to encourage the production of renewable fuels using raw materials other than corn. One type of ethanol production feedstock is cellulose. Cellulose is the main component of plant cell walls and is the most common organic compound on earth. Cellulose is found in wood chips, corn stalks, rice and straw, amongst other common plants. Cellulosic ethanol is ethanol produced from cellulose. Several companies and researchers have commenced pilot projects to study the feasibility of commercially producing cellulosic ethanol and are producing cellulosic ethanol on a small scale and a few companies in the United States have produced on a commercial scale. Additional commercial scale cellulosic ethanol plants could be completed in the near future. If this technology can be profitably employed on a commercial scale, it could potentially lead to ethanol that is less expensive to produce than corn based ethanol. Cellulosic ethanol may also capture more government subsidies and assistance than corn based ethanol. This could decrease demand for our product or result in competitive disadvantages for our ethanol production process.

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Our ethanol plant also competes with producers of other gasoline additives having similar octane and oxygenate values as ethanol. Alternative fuels, gasoline oxygenates and alternative ethanol production methods are also continually under development. The major oil companies have significantly greater resources than we have to market other additives, to develop alternative products, and to influence legislation and public perception of ethanol. These companies also have sufficient resources to begin production of ethanol should they choose to do so.

    A number of automotive, industrial and power generation manufacturers are developing alternative clean power systems using fuel cells, plug-in hybrids, electric cars or clean burning gaseous fuels. Electric car technology has grown in popularity, especially in urban areas. While currently there are a limited number of vehicle recharging stations, making electric cars not feasible for all consumers, there has been increased focus on developing these recharging stations which may make electric car technology more widely available in the future. This additional competition from alternate sources could reduce the demand for ethanol, which would negatively impact our profitability.

Many ethanol producers are increasing production capacities through expansion projects. This may lead to an excess supply of ethanol in the market which could negatively impact ethanol prices.

Distillers Grains

Our ethanol plant competes with other ethanol producers in the production and sales of distillers grains. Distillers grains are primarily used as animal feed which replaces corn and soybean meal. As a result, distillers grains prices are impacted by corn and soybean prices. In addition, increased exports of distillers grains have positively affected demand and distillers grains prices. If distillers grains exports decline, it could result in an oversupply in the market causing distillers grains prices in the United States to decrease.

Corn Oil Competition

We compete with many ethanol producers for the sale of corn oil. Many ethanol producers have installed the equipment necessary to separate corn oil from the distillers grains they produce which has increased competition for corn oil sales and has resulted in lower market corn oil prices.

Cost of Compliance with Environmental Laws

We are subject to extensive air, water and other environmental regulations and we were required to obtain a number of environmental permits to construct and operate the plant. Although we have been successful in obtaining all of the permits currently required, any retroactive change in environmental regulations, either at the federal or state level, could require us to obtain additional or new permits or spend considerable resources in complying with such regulations. Additionally, any changes that are made to the ethanol plant or its operations must be reviewed to determine if amended permits need to be obtained in order to implement these changes.

During the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017, we incurred costs and expenses of approximately $220,310 complying with environmental laws.

Butamax Advanced Biofuels Letter of Intent

In November 2011, we signed a non-binding letter of intent with Butamax Advanced Biofuels, L.L.C. ("Butamax") for the purpose of exploring the possible implementation of biobutanol technology and commercial-scale production of biobutanol at our facility. We completed Phase 1 of the project in April 2014 with the installation of a corn oil separation system at our plant. Please refer to “ITEM 7 - Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Liquidity and Capital Resources.” However, Phase 2 of the project, the implementation of biobutanol technology, is dependent upon completion and execution of separate definitive agreements related to biobutanol production and negotiations related to Phase 2 of the project are currently on hold.  We may never enter into those definitive agreements with Butamax and, therefore, may never convert our ethanol facility to a biobutanol facility.

Employees

As of October 31, 2017, we had 42 full-time employees. We do not expect the number of employees to materially change in the next twelve months.


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Financial Information about Geographic Areas

All of our operations are domiciled in the United States. All of the products sold to our customers for fiscal years 2017, 2016 and 2015 were produced in the United States and all of our long-lived assets are domiciled in the United States. We have engaged third-party professional marketers that decide where the majority of our products are marketed and we have limited control over the marketing decisions made by our third-party professional marketers. These third-party marketers may decide to sell our products in countries other than the United States. However, we anticipate that our products will primarily be marketed and sold in the United States.
  
ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS

You should carefully read and consider the risks and uncertainties below and the other information contained in this report. The risks and uncertainties described below are not the only ones we face. The following risks, together with additional risks and uncertainties not currently known to us or that we currently deem immaterial could impair our financial condition and results of operations.

Risks Relating to Our Business

A decrease in the spread between the price we receive for our products and the price we pay for raw materials will have an adverse effect on our profitability. Our ability to profitably operate the ethanol plant is primarily dependent on the spread between the price we pay for corn and natural gas and the price we receive for our ethanol. While the price of ethanol typically changes in relation to corn prices, this correlation has not always been reliable historically and may not always exist. In the event that the spread between the price for our products and the costs associated with our raw materials becomes negative, we may be unable to maintain our liquidity which may adversely impact our ability to profitably operate which could negatively impact the value of our units.

Declines in the price of ethanol or distillers grains would reduce our revenues. The sale prices of ethanol and distillers grains can be volatile as a result of a number of factors such as overall supply and demand, the price of gasoline and corn, levels of government support, and the availability and price of competing products. Any lowering of ethanol or distillers grains prices, especially if it is associated with increases in corn and natural gas prices, may affect our ability to operate profitably. We anticipate the price of ethanol and distillers grains to continue to be volatile in our 2018 fiscal year. Declines in the prices we receive for our ethanol and distillers grains will lead to decreased revenues and may result in our inability to operate the ethanol plant profitably for an extended period of time which could decrease the value of our units.

Increases in the price of corn or natural gas would reduce our profitability.  Our primary source of revenue is from the sale of ethanol and distillers grains. Our results of operations and financial condition are significantly affected by the cost and supply of corn and natural gas. Changes in the price and supply of corn and natural gas are subject to and determined by market forces over which we have no control including weather and general economic factors. Generally, higher corn prices will produce lower profit margins and, therefore, negatively affect our financial performance. If a period of high corn prices were to be sustained for some time, such pricing may reduce our ability to operate profitably because of the higher cost of operating our plant. We may not be able to offset any increase in the price of corn by increasing the price of our products. If we cannot offset increases in the price of corn, our financial performance may be negatively affected.

The prices for and availability of natural gas are subject to volatile market conditions.  These market conditions often are affected by factors beyond our control such as higher prices as a result of colder than average weather conditions or natural disasters, overall economic conditions and foreign and domestic governmental regulations and relations.  Significant disruptions in the supply of natural gas could impair our ability to manufacture ethanol and more significantly, distillers grains for our customers.  Furthermore, increases in natural gas prices or changes in our natural gas costs relative to natural gas costs paid by competitors may adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.
     
We engage in hedging transactions which involve risks that could harm our business. We are exposed to market risk from changes in commodity prices. Exposure to commodity price risk results from our dependence on corn and natural gas in the ethanol production process, along with sales of ethanol and distillers grains. We seek to minimize the risks from fluctuations in the prices of corn and natural gas through the use of derivative instruments. The effectiveness of our hedging strategies is dependent on the price of corn and natural gas and our ability to sell sufficient products to use all of the products for which we have futures contracts. Our hedging activities may not successfully reduce the risk caused by price fluctuation which may leave us vulnerable to high prices. Alternatively, we may choose not to engage in hedging transactions in the future and our operations and financial conditions may be adversely affected during periods in which prices increase. Utilizing cash for margin calls has an impact on the cash we have available for operations which could result in liquidity problems. Price movements in corn contracts are highly

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volatile and are influenced by many factors that are beyond our control. There are several variables that could affect the extent to which our derivative instruments are impacted by price fluctuations in the cost of corn. We may incur such costs and they may be significant which could impact our ability to profitably operate the plant and may reduct the value of our units.

Our business is not diversified. Our success depends almost entirely on our ability to profitably operate our ethanol plant. We do not have any other lines of business or other sources of revenue if we are unable to operate our ethanol plant and manufacture ethanol and distillers grains. If economic or political factors adversely affect the market for ethanol or distillers grains, we have no other line of business to fall back on. Our business would also be significantly harmed if the ethanol plant could not operate at full capacity for any extended period of time.

Although we have signed a letter of intent with Butamax Advanced Biofuels, LLC for the purpose of exploring the implementation of biobutanol technology at our facility, we may never execute definitive agreements for the implementation of biobutanol technology and, in the event we do, there are no assurances that the technology will be effective or that there will be a market for biobutanol. We entered into a letter of intent with Butamax for the purpose of discussing the conversion of our ethanol facility to a biobutanol facility. We subsequently completed Phase 1 of the project in April 2014 when Butamax installed and began leasing to us a corn oil separation system at our plant and licensing to us the related technology. However, Phase 2 of the project is dependent upon completion and execution of separate definitive agreements for biobutanol production and those negotiations are currently on hold.  We may never enter into those definitive agreements with Butamax and, therefore, may never convert our ethanol facility to a biobutanol facility. In the event we do convert our facility to a biobutanol facility, there are no assurances that the biobutanol technology as developed by Butamax will be effective. Even if the technology were to be effective, there is no assurance that we would be able to profitably market the biobutanol. If the definitive agreements for biobutanol production are not executed, either the Company or Butamax may request that the corn oil separation system be removed and the license for the technology terminated. 
    
If RPMG, which markets all of our ethanol, fails it may negatively impact our ability to profitably operate the ethanol plant. All of our ethanol is marketed by RPMG. Therefore, nearly all of our revenue is derived from sales that are secured by RPMG. If RPMG is unable to market our ethanol, it may negatively impact our ability to profitably operate the ethanol plant. While management believes that we could secure an alternative marketer if RPMG were to fail, switching marketers may negatively impact our cash flow and our ability to continue to operate profitably, which may decrease the value of our units.

We depend on our management and key employees, and the loss of these relationships could negatively impact our ability to operate profitably. We are highly dependent on our management team to operate our ethanol plant. We may not be able to replace these individuals should they decide to cease their employment with us, or if they become unavailable for any other reason. While we seek to compensate our management and key employees in a manner that will encourage them to continue their employment with us, they may choose to seek other employment. Any loss of these executive officers and key employees may prevent us from operating the ethanol plant profitably and could decrease the value of our units.

Our existing debt financing agreements contain, and our future debt financing agreements may contain, restrictive covenants that limit distributions and impose restrictions on the operation of our business. The use of debt financing makes it more difficult for us to operate because we must make principal and interest payments on the indebtedness and abide by covenants contained in our debt financing agreements. Although we have significantly reduced our level of debt, the restrictive covenants contained in our financing agreements may have important implications on our operations, including, among other things: (a) limiting our ability to obtain additional debt or equity financing; (b) placing us at a competitive disadvantage because we may be more leveraged than some of our competitors; (c) subjecting all or substantially all of our assets to liens, which means that there may be no assets left for unit holders in the event of a liquidation; and (d) limiting our ability to make business and operational decisions regarding our business, including, among other things, limiting our ability to pay dividends to our unit holders, make capital improvements, sell or purchase assets or engage in transactions we deem to be appropriate and in our best interest.
    
We may violate the terms of our credit and capital lease agreements, including the financial covenants, which could result in our lenders demanding immediate repayment. Our credit and capital lease agreements include various financial loan covenants. We are currently in compliance with our loan covenants and management projections predict that we will be in compliance with our loan covenants for at least the next 12 months. However, unforeseen circumstances may develop which could result in us violating our loan covenants. If we violate the terms of our credit agreements, including our financial loan covenants, our lenders could deem us to be in default of our loans and require us to immediately repay the entire outstanding balance of our loans. If we do not have the funds available to repay the loans or we cannot find another source of financing, we may fail which could decrease or eliminate the value of our units.


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Our inability to secure credit facilities we may require in the future could negatively impact our liquidity. While we do not currently require more financing than we have, in the future we may need additional financing. If we require financing in the future and are unable to secure such financing, or we are unable to secure the financing we require on reasonable terms, it may have a negative impact on our liquidity which could negatively impact the value of our units.

Our operations may be negatively impacted by natural disasters, severe weather conditions, and other unforeseen plant shutdowns which can negatively impact our operations. Our operations may be negatively impacted by events outside of our control such as natural disasters, severe weather including flooding and droughts, strikes, train derailments and other unforeseen events which may negatively impact our operations. If we experience any of these unforeseen circumstances which could negatively impact our operations, it may affect our cash flow and negatively impact the value of our business.

We may incur casualty losses that are not covered by insurance which could negatively impact the value of our units. We have purchased insurance which we believe adequately covers our losses from foreseeable risks. However, there are risks that we may encounter for which there is no insurance or for which insurance is not available on terms that are acceptable to us. If we experience a loss which materially impairs our ability to operate the ethanol plant which is not covered by insurance, the value of our units could be reduced or eliminated.

Risks Related to Ethanol Industry

Lack of rail transportation infrastructure and delayed rail shipments have resulted in rail logistical problems which could negatively impact our financial performance. The ethanol industry has experienced difficulty transporting the ethanol which is produced. Ethanol is typically shipped by rail. During our 2014 fiscal year, increased shipments of coal and oil by rail, decreased shipment capacity by the railroads due to fewer railroad crews, and poor weather conditions resulted in slowed rail travel and loading times and delays in returning rail cars resulting in ethanol storage capacity constraints requiring us to reduce production at our plant at times negatively affecting our financial performance. If rail logistical problems were to return in the future, they may negatively impact our ability to operate the ethanol plant profitably which could reduce the value of our units.

Decreasing gasoline prices could negatively impact our ability to operate profitably. Discretionary blending is an important secondary market which is often determined by the price of ethanol versus the price of gasoline. In periods when discretionary blending is financially unattractive, the demand for ethanol may be reduced. Lower oil prices reduce the spread between the price of gasoline and the price of ethanol which can discourage discretionary blending, dampen the export market and result in a downwards market adjustment in the price of ethanol. If oil and gasoline prices were to remain low for a significant period of time, it could hurt our ability to profitably operate the ethanol plant which could decrease the value of our units.

The ethanol industry is an industry that is changing rapidly which can result in unexpected developments that could negatively impact our operations and the value of our units. The ethanol industry has grown significantly in the last decade. This rapid growth has resulted in significant shifts in supply and demand of ethanol over a very short period of time. As a result, past performance by the ethanol plant or the ethanol industry generally might not be indicative of future performance. We may experience a rapid shift in the economic conditions in the ethanol industry which may make it difficult to operate the ethanol plant profitably. If changes occur in the ethanol industry that make it difficult for us to operate the ethanol plant profitably, it could result in the reduction in the value of our units.

Demand for ethanol may not continue to grow unless ethanol can be blended into gasoline in higher percentage blends for all conventional automobiles. Currently, ethanol is primarily blended with gasoline for use in standard (non-flex fuel) vehicles to create a blend which is 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline. In order to expand ethanol demand, higher percentage blends of ethanol must be utilized in standard vehicles. The EPA has approved the use of E15 for standard vehicles produced in the model year 2001 and later. However, the fact that E15 has not been approved for use in all vehicles and the labeling requirements associated with E15 may result in many gasoline retailers refusing to carry E15. In addition, different gasoline blendstocks may be required at certain times of the year in order to use E15 due to federal regulations related to fuel evaporative emissions. As a result, the approval of E15 may not significantly increase demand for ethanol.
    
Changes and advances in ethanol production technology could require us to incur costs to update our plant or could otherwise hinder our ability to compete in the ethanol industry or operate profitably. Advances and changes in the technology of ethanol production are expected to occur. Such advances and changes may make the ethanol production technology installed in our plant less desirable or obsolete. These advances could also allow our competitors to produce ethanol at a lower costs than we are able. If we are unable to adopt or incorporate technological advances, our ethanol production methods and processes could be less efficient than our competitors, which could cause our plant to become uncompetitive or completely obsolete. If our competitors develop, obtain or license technology that is superior to ours or that makes our technology obsolete, we may be required to incur significant costs to enhance or acquire new technology so that our ethanol production remains competitive.

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Alternatively, we may be required to seek third-party licenses, which could also result in significant expenditures. These third-party licenses may not be available or, once obtained, they may not continue to be available on commercially reasonable terms. These costs could negatively impact our financial performance by increasing our operating costs and reducing our net income.

Technology advances in the commercialization of cellulosic ethanol may decrease demand for corn based ethanol which may negatively affect our profitability. The current trend in ethanol production research is to develop an efficient method of producing ethanol from cellulose-based biomass, such as agricultural waste, forest residue, municipal solid waste and energy crops. This trend is driven by the fact that cellulose-based biomass is generally cheaper than corn, and producing ethanol from cellulose-based biomass would create opportunities to produce ethanol in areas which are unable to grow corn. There are several government initiatives that offer a strong incentive to develop commercial scale cellulosic ethanol. Although subject to possible reduction by the EPA, the statutory volume requirement of the RFS provides for 16 billion gallons per year of advanced bio-fuels to be consumed in the United States by 2022. Some companies have reportedly produced cellulosic ethanol on a commercial scale and other companies may be constructing commercial scale plants in the United States. If an efficient method of producing ethanol from cellulose-based biomass on a commercial scale is successful, we may not be able to compete effectively. If we are unable to produce ethanol as cost-effectively as cellulose-based producers, our ability to generate revenue will be negatively impacted.

We operate in an intensely competitive industry and compete with larger, better financed companies which could impact our ability to operate profitably. There is significant competition among ethanol producers. There are numerous producer-owned and privately-owned ethanol plants planned and operating through the United States. In addition, we have seen increased competition from oil companies that have purchased ethanol production facilities. We also face competition from ethanol producers located outside the United States. The largest ethanol producers include Archer Daniels Midland, Flint Hills Resources, Green Plains Renewable Energy, POET, and Valero Renewable Fuels, each of which is capable of producing significantly more ethanol than we produce. Further, many believe that there will be further consolidation occurring in the ethanol industry in the future which will likely lead to a few companies that control a significant portion of the ethanol production market. We may not be able to compete with these larger producers and our inability to compete could negatively impact our financial performance.

Competition from the advancement of alternative fuels and clean power systems using fuel cells, plug-in hybrids and electric cars may lessen the demand for ethanol. Alternative fuels, gasoline oxygenates and ethanol production methods are continually under development. A number of automotive, industrial and power generation manufacturers are developing alternative clean power systems using fuel cells, plug-in hybrids, electric cars or clean burning gaseous fuels. Like ethanol, these emerging technologies offer an option to address worldwide energy costs, the long-term availability of petroleum reserves and environmental concerns. If these alternative technologies continue to expand and gain broad acceptance and become readily available to consumers for motor vehicle use, we may not be able to compete effectively. This additional competition could reduce the demand for ethanol, resulting in lower ethanol prices that might adversely affect our financial condition.

Consumer resistance to the use of ethanol based on the belief that ethanol is expensive, uses too much corn, adds to air pollution, harms engines, and/or takes more energy to produce than it contributes may affect the demand for ethanol. Certain individuals believe that the use of ethanol will have a negative impact on gasoline prices and that ethanol production uses too much of the available corn supply. Many also believe that ethanol adds to air pollution and harms vehicle engines. Still other consumers believe that the process of producing ethanol actually uses more fossil energy, such as oil and natural gas, than the amount of energy that is produced. These consumer beliefs could potentially be wide-spread. If consumers choose not to buy ethanol based on these beliefs, it would affect the demand for the ethanol we produce which could negatively affect our profitability.

Risks Related to Regulation and Governmental Action

Government incentives for ethanol production may be eliminated in the future, which could hinder our ability to operate at a profit. The ethanol industry is assisted by various federal ethanol incentives, including the RFS set forth in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The RFS helps support a market for ethanol that might disappear without this incentive. The United States Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") has the authority to waive the RFS statutory volume requirement, in whole or in part, provided certain conditions have been met. Annually, the EPA is supposed to pass a rule that establishes the number of gallons of different types of renewable fuels that must be used in the United States which is called the renewable volume obligations. In the past, the EPA has set the renewable volume obligations below the statutory limits. Any future reduction of the volume requirements under the RFS by the EPA could decrease the market price and demand for ethanol which will negatively impact our financial performance.
    
Changes in environmental regulations or violations of these regulations could be expensive and reduce our profitability. We are subject to extensive air, water and other environmental laws and regulations. In addition, some of these laws require our plant to operate under a number of environmental permits. These laws, regulations and permits can often require expensive pollution control equipment or operational changes to limit actual or potentials impacts to the environment. A violation of these

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laws and regulations or permit conditions can result in substantial fines, damages, criminal sanctions, permit revocations and/or plant shutdowns. In the future, we may be subject to legal actions brought by environmental advocacy groups and other parties for actual or alleged violations of environmental laws or our permits. Additionally, any changes in environmental laws and regulations could require us to spend considerable resources to comply with future environmental regulations. The expense of compliance could be significant enough to reduce our profitability and negatively affect our financial condition.

The California Low Carbon Fuel Standard may decrease demand for corn based ethanol which could negatively impact our profitability. California passed a Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) requiring that renewable fuels used in California must accomplish certain reductions in greenhouse gases which are measured using a lifecycle analysis. California represents a significant ethanol market and if we are unable to supply ethanol to California, it could significantly reduce demand for the ethanol we produce. Any decrease in ethanol demand as a result of the California LCFS could negatively impact ethanol prices which could reduce our revenues and negatively impact our ability to profitably operate the ethanol plant.

A reduction in distillers grains exports to China could have a negative effect on the price of distillers grains in the U.S. and negatively affect our profitability. Historically, China was the world's largest buyer of distillers grains produced in the United States. On January 12, 2016, the Chinese government began an anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigation related to distillers grains imported from the United States which contributed to a decline in distillers grains shipped to China. In 2016, China implemented anti-dumptng and anti-subsidy duties as a result of preliminary rulings on its investigation. On January 10, 2017, China announced a final ruling imposing increased anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties which significantly decreased demand and prices from China and negatively impacted the price of distillers grains produced in the United States. This reduction in export demand could negatively impact our ability to profitably operate the ethanol plant.

A reduction in ethanol exports to Brazil due to the imposition by the Brazilian government of a tariff on U.S. ethanol could have a negative effect on ethanol prices. Brazil has historically been a top destination for ethanol produced in the United States. However, earlier this year, Brazil imposed a tariff on ethanol produced in the United States and exported to Brazil. This tariff has resulted in a decline in demand from Brazil and could negatively affect the market price of ethanol in the United States and our ability to profitably operate the ethanol plant.
        
A reduction in exports to Europe due to the imposition by the European Union of a tariff on U.S. ethanol could have a negative effect on ethanol prices. The European Union imposed a tariff on ethanol which is produced in the United States and exported to Europe which has negatively impacted exports of ethanol to Europe. The decrease could negatively impact the market price of ethanol in the United States and our ability to profitably operate the ethanol plant.

ITEM 2. PROPERTIES

Our plant site is made up of two adjacent parcels which together total approximately 125 acres in southwest Minnesota near Lamberton. The plant's address is 24500 U.S. Highway 14, Lamberton, Minnesota 56152. We produce all of our ethanol, distillers grains and corn oil at this site. Our plant is in excellent condition and is capable of functioning at over 100% of its 50 million gallons per year nameplate production capacity.

All of our tangible and intangible property, real and personal, serves as the collateral for our credit with Compeer Financial f/k/a AgStar Financial Services, PCA. In addition we have granted a security interest in the corn oil separation system to Butamax to secure our obligations under the capital lease agreement. Our credit facility and our capital lease agreement with Butamax are discussed in more detail under “ITEM 7 - Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Liquidity and Capital Resources.”

ITEM 3. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

None.


ITEM 4. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES

None.


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PART II

ITEM 5. MARKET FOR REGISTRANT'S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED MEMBER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES

As of January 24, 2018, we have 4,813.5 membership units outstanding and 1,452 unit holders of record. There is no public trading market for our membership units.

We have, however, established a Unit Trading Bulletin Board, a private online matching service, through Farmers National Company Agstock, LLC in order to facilitate trading among our members. The Unit Trading Bulletin Board has been designed to comply with federal tax laws and Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") regulations establishing a “qualified matching service,” as well as state and federal securities laws. Our Unit Trading Bulletin Board consists of an electronic bulletin board that provides a list of interested buyers with a list of interested sellers, along with their non-firm price quotes. The Unit Trading Bulletin Board does not automatically affect matches between potential sellers and buyers and it is the sole responsibility of sellers and buyers to contact each other to make a determination as to whether an agreement to transfer units may be reached. We do not become involved in any purchase or sale negotiations arising from our Unit Trading Bulletin Board and have no role in effecting the transactions beyond approval, as required under our member control agreement, and the issuance of new certificates. We do not give advice regarding the merits or shortcomings of any particular transaction. We do not receive, transfer or hold funds or securities as an incident of operating the Unit Trading Bulletin Board. We do not receive any compensation for creating or maintaining the Unit Trading Bulletin Board. In advertising our Unit Trading Bulletin Board, we do not characterize Highwater Ethanol as being a broker or dealer or an exchange. We do not use the Unit Trading Bulletin Board to offer to buy or sell securities other than in compliance with the securities laws, including any applicable registration requirements.

There are detailed timelines that must be followed under the Unit Trading Bulletin Board Rules and Procedures with respect to offers and sales of membership units. All transactions must comply with the Unit Trading Bulletin Board Rules, our member control agreement, and are subject to approval by our board of governors.

As a limited liability company, we are required to restrict the transfers of our membership units in order to preserve our partnership tax status. Our membership units may not be traded on any established securities market or readily traded on a secondary market (or the substantial equivalent thereof). All transfers are subject to a determination that the transfer will not cause the Company to be deemed a publicly traded partnership.

The following table contains historical information by fiscal quarter for the fiscal years ended October 31, 2017 and 2016 regarding the actual unit transactions that were completed by our unit-holders during the periods specified. We believe this most accurately represents the current trading value of the Company's units. The information was compiled by reviewing the completed unit transfers that occurred on our Unit Trading Bulletin Board during the quarters indicated.

Quarter
Low Price
High Price
Average Price
# of Units Traded
2017 4th
$
8,255

$
8,850

$
8,542

5
2017 3rd
$
8,700

$
8,750

$
8,733

6
2017 2nd
$
8,575

$
9,000

$
8,701

33
2017 1st
$
7,800

$
10,000

$
9,671

14
2016 4th
$
7,800

$
7,800

$
7,800

3
2016 3rd
$
7,800

$
7,900

$
7,843

7
2016 2nd
$
7,999

$
8,000

$
8,000

2
2016 1st
$
8,200

$
8,250

$
8,087

19

The following table contains the asked prices that were posted on the Company's Unit Trading Bulletin Board and includes some transactions that were not completed. The Company believes the table above more accurately describes the trading value of its units as the asked prices below include some offers that never resulted in completed transactions. The information was compiled by reviewing postings that were made on the Company's Unit Trading Bulletin Board.

18


Quarter
Low Price
High Price
Average Price
# of Units Listed
2017 4th
$
8,200

$
8,500

$
8,405

11
2017 3rd
$
8,750

$
9,000

$
8,845

11
2017 2nd
$
8,400

$
9,800

$
8,630

37
2017 1st
$
8,500

$
10,500

$
9,888

25
2016 4th
$
7,800

$
7,800

$
7,800

8
2016 3rd
$
7,800

$
7,900

$
7,843

7
2016 2nd
$
7,999

$
8,000

$
8,000

46
2016 1st
$
8,000

$
11,000

$
9,200

26

Distributions

During our fiscal year ended October 31, 2017, we made one cash distribution of $345 per membership unit for a total distribution of $1,687,740. During our fiscal year ended October 31, 2016, we made one cash distribution of $400 per membership unit for a total distribution of $1,974,400. Subsequent to our 2017 fiscal year end, we made a cash distribution of $345 per membership unit for a total distribution of $1,660,658.

Our expectations with respect to our ability to make future distributions are discussed in greater detail in “ITEM 7 - Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.” In addition, distributions are restricted by certain loan covenants in our construction term loan and revolving credit financing agreements. These loan covenants and restrictions are described in greater detail under “ITEM 7 - Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Liquidity and Capital Resources.”

Performance Graph

The following graph shows a comparison of cumulative total member return since October 31, 2012, calculated on a dividend reinvested basis, for the Company, the NASDAQ Composite Index (the "NASDAQ") and an index of other companies that have the same SIC codes as the Company (the "Industry Index"). The graph assumes $100 was invested in each of our units, the NASDAQ, and the Industry Index on October 31, 2012. Note that historic stock price performance is not necessarily indicative of future unit price performance.



19


highwater2017performancegrap.jpg

Pursuant to the rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the performance graph and the information set forth therein shall not be deemed to be filed for purposes of Section 18 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and shall not be deemed to be incorporated by reference in any filing under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Exchange Act, except as shall be expressly set forth by specific reference in such filing.

ITEM 6. SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA

The following table presents selected financial and operating data as of the dates and for the periods indicated. The selected balance sheet financial data as of October 31, 2015, 2014 and 2013 and the selected statements of operations data and other financial data for the years ended October 31, 2014 and 2013 have been derived from our audited financial statements that are not included in this Form 10-K. The selected balance sheet financial data as of October 31, 2017 and 2016 and the selected statements of operations data and other financial data for each of the years in the three year period ended October 31, 2017 have been derived from the audited financial statements included elsewhere in this Form 10-K. You should read the following table in conjunction with "ITEM 7 - Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" and the financial statements and the accompanying notes included elsewhere in this Form 10-K. Among other things, those financial statements include more detailed information regarding the basis of presentation for the following financial data.

20


Statement of Operations Data:
 
2017
 
2016
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
 
Revenues
 
$
100,225,143

 
$
98,945,344

 
$
110,237,009

 
$
139,597,173

 
$
168,682,409

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Cost of Goods Sold
 
93,476,303

 
95,560,017

 
102,331,749

 
111,405,819

 
159,305,976

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Gross Profit
 
6,748,840

 
3,385,327

 
7,905,260

 
28,191,354

 
9,376,433

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Operating Expenses
 
2,739,770

 
2,686,084

 
2,411,439

 
2,210,637

 
1,819,444

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Operating Income
 
4,009,070

 
699,243

 
5,493,821

 
25,980,717

 
7,556,989

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Other Income (Expense)
 
(489,758
)
 
(176,575
)
 
(440,283
)
 
(4,046,541
)
 
(2,732,930
)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Net Income
 
$
3,519,312

 
$
522,668

 
$
5,053,538

 
$
21,934,176

 
$
4,824,059

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Weighted Average Units Outstanding
 
4,834

 
4,920

 
4,953

 
4,953

 
4,953

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Basic and Diluted Net Income Per Unit
 
$
728.03

 
$
106.23

 
$
1,020.30

 
$
4,428.46

 
$
973.96

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Cash Distributions Per Unit
 
$
345.00

 
$
400.00

 
$
1,125

 
$

 
$

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Balance Sheet Data:
 
2017
 
2016
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
 
Current Assets
 
$
11,847,401

 
$
13,826,657

 
$
17,887,759

 
$
24,502,735

 
$
15,438,420

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Net Property and Equipment
 
72,051,447

 
75,142,338

 
77,458,142

 
77,484,018

 
80,312,341

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Other Assets
 
2,833,212

 
2,885,301

 
2,850,523

 
2,826,256

 
4,048,812

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Total Assets
 
$
86,732,060

 
$
91,854,296

 
$
98,196,424

 
$
104,813,009

 
$
99,799,573

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Current Liabilities
 
$
6,655,688

 
$
7,194,407

 
$
6,920,569

 
$
7,231,283

 
$
7,244,981

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Long-Term Debt
 
7,942,403

 
13,807,492

 
18,663,726

 
24,315,010

 
41,231,727

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Members' Equity
 
72,133,969

 
70,852,397

 
72,612,129

 
73,266,716

 
51,322,865

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Total Liabilities & Members' Equity
 
$
86,732,060

 
$
91,854,296

 
$
98,196,424

 
$
104,813,009

 
$
99,799,573

 

See "ITEM 7 - Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" for further discussion of our financial results.


21


ITEM 7. MANAGEMENT'S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

Results of Operations for the Fiscal Years Ended October 31, 2017 and 2016
 
The following table shows the results of our operations and the percentage of revenues, cost of goods sold, gross profit, operating expenses, operating profit and other items to total revenues in our statements of operations for the fiscal years ended October 31, 2017 and 2016:

 
2017
 
2016
Statements of Operations Data
Amount
 
%
 
Amount
 
%
Revenues
$
100,225,143

 
100.00
 %
 
$
98,945,344

 
100.00
 %
Cost of Goods Sold
93,476,303

 
93.27
 %
 
95,560,017

 
96.58
 %
Gross Profit
6,748,840

 
6.73
 %
 
3,385,327

 
3.42
 %
Operating Expenses
2,739,770

 
2.73
 %
 
2,686,084

 
2.71
 %
Operating Profit
4,009,070

 
4.00
 %
 
699,243

 
0.71
 %
Other Income (Expense), Net
(489,758
)
 
(0.49
)%
 
(176,575
)
 
(0.18
)%
Net Income
$
3,519,312

 
3.51
 %
 
$
522,668

 
0.53
 %

The following table shows the sources of our revenues for the fiscal years ended October 31, 2017 and 2016.
 
 
2017
 
2016
Revenue Sources
 
Amount
 
Percentage of
Total Revenues
 
Amount
 
Percentage of
Total Revenues
Ethanol Sales
 
$
81,765,292

 
81.58
%
 
$
78,549,844

 
79.39
%
Modified Wet Distillers Grains Sales
 
2,285,156

 
2.28
%
 
2,867,888

 
2.90
%
Dried Distillers Grains Sales
 
12,463,304

 
12.44
%
 
14,426,526

 
14.58
%
Corn Oil Sales
 
3,711,391

 
3.70
%
 
3,101,086

 
3.13
%
Total Revenues
 
$
100,225,143

 
100.00
%
 
$
98,945,344

 
100.00
%

Revenue

Ethanol

Our total revenues were higher for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017 compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016. Revenue from ethanol sales increased by approximately 4.1% during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017 compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016 primarily due to higher ethanol prices. The average per gallon ethanol sales price received for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017 was approximately 3.8% higher than the average price received for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016. In addition, the gallons of ethanol sold during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017 increased by approximately 0.4% as compared to the number of gallons of ethanol sold for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016.

Ethanol prices were higher during our first and second quarters of our 2017 fiscal year due to increased demand and higher gasoline prices. Ethanol prices trended lower during our third quarter of our 2017 fiscal year due to increased domestic production and lower corn prices resulting from increased corn inventories. During our fourth quarter of our 2017 fiscal year, ethanol prices stabilized during August and September but then trended lower in October due to decreased demand and increased domestic production.

Ethanol prices will likely continue to generally be directionally consistent with changes in corn and energy prices. If corn and gasoline prices decrease, that could have a significant negative impact on the price of ethanol particularly if ethanol stocks were to increase. An increase by the Chinese government in January 2017 of the tariff on ethanol produced in the United States has had a negative effect on export demand to China and is expected to result in lower ethanol prices unless additional demand can be created from other foreign markets or domestically. The institution of a tariff by the Brazilian government on ethanol produced in the U.S. to Brazil could also have a negative effect on ethanol prices. In addition, if we were to experience difficulty in transporting ethanol due to rail delays we may have to decrease production at the plant which would impact our ability to operate the ethanol plant profitably.

22


The increase in ethanol gallons sold for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017, as compared to the number of gallons of ethanol we sold for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016, was mainly due to an increase in ethanol production. Management anticipates that ethanol production will be comparable during our 2018 fiscal year to our 2017 fiscal year.

In the ordinary course of business, we enter into forward contracts for our commodity purchases and sales. At October 31, 2017, we had no forward fixed price ethanol sales contracts. We recorded a gain related to ethanol based derivative instruments of approximately $567,000 for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017. We recorded a loss related to ethanol based derivative instruments of approximately $230,000 for the fiscal year ended and October 31, 2016.

Distillers Grains

Revenue from distillers grains decreased by approximately 14.7% during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017 compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016. This is primarily a result of lower distillers grains prices and a decrease in the number of tons of dried distillers grains and modified distillers grains sold during our fiscal year ended October 31, 2017 compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016. For the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017, the average price per ton that we received for our dried distillers grains was approximately 14.4% lower than during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016 due to lower corn prices and lower domestic and export demand. For the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017, the average price per ton that we received for our modified distillers grains was approximately 8.9% lower than during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016.

Distillers grains prices typically change in proportion to corn prices and availability of corn. Domestic demand for distillers grains could also remain low due to expansion of production capacity in the ethanol industry or if corn prices decline and end-users switch to lower priced alternatives. Management attributes the decrease in the average price we received for dried distillers grains in part to the lower corn prices we experienced during much of the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017 in response to a large 2016 corn crop and projections of a large 2017 corn crop.

Changes in foreign demand also impact distillers grains prices. Management attributes the decrease in the average price we received for distillers grains in part to lower export demand. China has been a significant consumer of exported distillers grains particularly since December 2014 following the resolution of a dispute related to China's objection to the presence of an unapproved genetically modified organism in some U.S. shipments. However, an anti-dumping investigation began by the Chinese government on January 12, 2016 into distillers grains produced in the United States and the recent imposition by China of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on U.S. imports has had a negative effect on export demand from China resulting in lower distillers grains prices. Distillers grains prices could remain low unless additional demand can be created from other foreign markets or domestically.

The tons of dried distillers grains we sold during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017, decreased by approximately 1.3% as compared to the tons of dried distillers grains we sold for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016. The tons of modified distillers grains we sold during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017, decreased by approximately 12.5% as compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016 due to a decrease in the demand for our product in our area. Overall, the number of tons of distillers grains sold decreased during our fiscal year ended October 31, 2017 compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016 due to timing of distillers grain shipments. Management anticipates that distillers grains production will be comparable during our 2018 fiscal year to our 2017 fiscal year.

At October 31, 2017, we had approximately 10,830 tons of forward fixed price dried distillers grains sales contracts valued at approximately $1,215,000 for delivery periods through March 2018. At October 31, 2017, the Company has approximately 22,200 tons of forward fixed price modified distillers grains sales contracts valued at approximately $1,243,000 for delivery periods through August 2018.
    
Corn Oil

Revenue from corn oil sales increased by approximately 19.7% during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017, as compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016. This is primarily a result of an increase in the average price per pound of corn oil sold during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017, as compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016. For the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017, the average price per pound of corn oil we received was approximately 7.4% higher than during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016 due to increased demand from the corn oil feed market.

Management anticipates that corn oil prices in the future will be affected by changes in corn and energy prices and the status of the biodiesel blenders' tax credit.


23


The pounds of corn oil sold during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017, increased by approximately 0.3% as compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016. Problems with our corn oil extraction equipment during our first and second quarters of our 2017 fiscal year resulted in decreased corn oil production. However, after repairs on the equipment were completed, our corn oil production performed well and conversion rates exceeded previous levels. Management anticipates that our corn oil production will be comparable during our 2018 fiscal year to our 2017 fiscal year.

At October 31, 2017, we had approximately 100,000 pounds of forward fixed price corn oil sales contracts valued at approximately $26,000 for delivery periods through November 2017.

Cost of Goods Sold

Our two largest costs of production are corn (68.4% of cost of goods sold for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017) and natural gas (6.0% of cost of goods sold for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017). Our total cost of goods sold was approximately 2.2% less during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017 compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016.
    
Corn

Our average price per bushel of corn for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017 decreased by approximately 5.8% as compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016 primarily due to lower corn prices. We used approximately 0.9% more bushels of corn in the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017 as compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016 due to increased ethanol production and timing of shipments in the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017.
    
We experienced lower corn prices during our fiscal year ended October 31, 2016 due to to an increase in United States corn inventories due to the large corn crop which was harvested in the fall of 2016.

Management expects there to be an adequate corn supply available in our area to operate the ethanol plant and that prices during our 2018 fiscal year may continue to be lower due to the large corn crop which was harvested in the fall of 2017. However, corn prices will likely remain volatile in the future depending on weather conditions, supply and demand, stocks and other factors and could significantly impact our costs of production. Management anticipates corn consumption during our 2018 fiscal year will be comparable to our 2017 fiscal year.

At October 31, 2017, we had approximately 2,166,000 bushels of forward fixed basis corn purchase contracts and 1,133,000 bushels of forward fixed price corn purchase contracts valued at approximately $3,623,000 for various delivery periods through December 2018. We recorded gains related to corn derivative instruments of approximately $1,751,000 and $40,000 for the fiscal years ended October 31, 2017 and October 31, 2016, respectively.
 
Natural Gas

For the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017, we purchased approximately 2.8% more natural gas as compared to the same period of 2016. This increase in natural gas usage is primarily due to increased throughput in the dryers. Our average price per MMBTU of natural gas was approximately 1.9% lower for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017 compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016.

Natural gas prices were lower on average during our first and second quarters of our 2017 fiscal year due to an increased supply resulting primarily from a relatively mild winter during our 2017 fiscal year and our locking in prices for the majority of our natural gas requirements. Natural gas prices trended higher during our third quarter of our 2017 fiscal year due to lower production levels but stabilized during our fourth quarter. Management anticipates that natural gas prices will continue at their current levels unless the natural gas industry experiences production problems or if there are large increases in natural gas demand which will likely depend on the severity of the winter conditions experienced during our 2018 fiscal year.

At October 31, 2017, we had approximately 1,275,000 MMBTUs of forward natural gas fixed price purchase contracts valued at approximately $3,616,000 for delivery periods through September 2019. We recorded a gain related to natural gas based derivative instruments of approximately $11,000 for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017. We recorded a loss related to natural gas based derivative instruments of approximately $87,000 for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016.

Operating Expense

We had operating expense for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017 of $2,739,770 compared to operating expense of $2,686,084 for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016. Management attributes a portion of this increase in operating expense to

24


an increase in information technology fees and professional fees. We continue to pursue strategies to optimize efficiencies and maximize production. These efforts may result in a decrease in our operating expenses on a per gallon basis. However, because these expenses do not vary with the level of production at the plant, we expect our operating expenses to remain relatively steady.

Operating Profit

We had operating profit for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017 of $4,009,070, which is approximately 4.0% of our revenues, compared to operating profit of $699,243 for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016, which is approximately 0.7% of our revenues. This increase in our profitability for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017, was due primarily to the increase in the price we received for ethanol relative to the price we paid for corn.

Other Income (Expense), Net
    
We had total other expense for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017 of $489,758 compared to other expense of $176,575 for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016. Our other expense for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017, consisted primarily of interest expense which was offset in part by income from investments.

Results of Operations for the Fiscal Years Ended October 31, 2016 and 2015
 
The following table shows the results of our operations and the percentage of revenues, cost of goods sold, gross profit, operating expenses, operating profit and other items to total revenues in our statements of operations for the fiscal years ended October 31, 2016 and 2015:

 
2016
 
2015
Statements of Operations Data
Amount
 
%
 
Amount
 
%
Revenues
$
98,945,344

 
100.00
 %
 
$
110,237,009

 
100.00
 %
Cost of Goods Sold
95,560,017

 
96.58
 %
 
102,331,749

 
92.83
 %
Gross Profit
3,385,327

 
3.42
 %
 
7,905,260

 
7.17
 %
Operating Expenses
2,686,084

 
2.71
 %
 
2,411,439

 
2.19
 %
Operating Profit
699,243

 
0.71
 %
 
5,493,821

 
4.98
 %
Other Income (Expense), Net
(176,575
)
 
(0.18
)%
 
(440,283
)
 
(0.40
)%
Net Income
$
522,668

 
0.53
 %
 
$
5,053,538

 
4.58
 %

The following table shows the sources of our revenues for the fiscal years ended October 31, 2016 and 2015.
 
 
2016
 
2015
Revenue Sources
 
Amount
 
Percentage of
Total Revenues
 
Amount
 
Percentage of
Total Revenues
Ethanol Sales
 
$
78,549,844

 
79.39
%
 
$
85,983,107

 
78.00
%
Modified Wet Distillers Grains Sales
 
2,867,888

 
2.90
%
 
1,943,269

 
1.76
%
Dried Distillers Grains Sales
 
14,426,526

 
14.58
%
 
19,422,811

 
17.62
%
Corn Oil Sales
 
3,101,086

 
3.13
%
 
2,887,822

 
2.62
%
Total Revenues
 
$
98,945,344

 
100.00
%
 
$
110,237,009

 
100.00
%

Revenue

Ethanol

Our total revenues were lower for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016 compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2015. Revenue from ethanol sales decreased by approximately 8.6% during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016 compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2015 primarily due to lower ethanol prices. The average per gallon ethanol sales price we received for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016 was approximately 8.3% lower than the average price we received for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2015. The gallons of ethanol we sold during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016 decreased by approximately 0.4% as compared to the number of gallons of ethanol we sold for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2015.


25


Ethanol prices were lower during our first and second quarters of our 2016 fiscal year due to increased supply and lower gasoline prices. Ethanol prices were supported somewhat during May, June and early July, 2016, by an increase in domestic use due to a seasonal increase in driving during the summer months. However, ethanol prices decreased again in late July in response to lower corn prices. Ethanol prices trended up during the fourth quarter of our 2016 fiscal year due to an increase in domestic and foreign demand in combination with a decrease in supply due to fall maintenance shutdowns in the industry.

The decrease in ethanol gallons sold for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016, as compared to the number of gallons of ethanol we sold for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2015, was mainly due to a decrease in production in January and February 2016 in response to lower margins.
We recorded losses related to ethanol based derivative instruments of approximately $230,000 and $42,000 for the fiscal years ended October 31, 2016 and October 31, 2015, respectively.

Distillers Grains

Revenue from distillers grains decreased by approximately 19.1% during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016 compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2015. This is primarily a result of lower distillers grains prices and a decrease in the number of tons of dried distillers grains sold during our fiscal year ended October 31, 2016 compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2015 which was partially offset by an increase in modified distillers grains sold. For the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016, the average price per ton that we received for our dried distillers grains was approximately 22.1% lower than during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2015. For the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016, the average price per ton that we received for our modified distillers grains was approximately 1.6% higher than during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2015.

Distillers grains prices typically change in proportion to corn prices and availability of corn. Management attributes the decrease in the average price we received for dried distillers grains in part to the lower corn prices we experienced during much of the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016 in response to a large 2015 corn crop and projections of a large 2016 corn crop. In addition, distillers grains prices declined during our fiscal year ended October 31, 2016 due to lower domestic and foreign demand. China instituted an antidumping and countervailing duty investigation related to distillers grains imported from the United States which contributed to a decline in distillers grains shipped to China. China then imposed duties on distillers grains that are produced in the United States which resulted in a further decline in demand from the largest source of export demand for distillers grains. This had a negative effect on distillers grains during our fiscal year ended October 31, 2016.

The tons of dried distillers grains we sold during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016, decreased by approximately 9.3% as compared to the tons of dried distillers grains we sold for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2015. The tons of modified distillers grains we sold during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016, increased by approximately 45.3% as compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2015 due to an increase in the demand for our product in our area. Overall, the number of tons of distillers grains sold increased during our fiscal year ended October 31, 2016 compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2015 due to timing of distillers grain shipments.
    
Corn Oil

Revenue from corn oil sales increased by approximately 7.4% during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016, as compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2015. This is primarily a result of an increase in pounds of corn oil sold during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016, as compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2015. For the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016, the average price per pound of corn oil we received was approximately the same as during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2015.

During the first and second quarters of our fiscal year ended October 31, 2016, corn oil prices were lower due to increased corn oil supply entering the market and lower biodiesel demand due to the expiration of the biodiesel blender's tax credit. Biodiesel production is a major source of corn oil demand. Corn oil prices increased during the third and fourth quarters of our fiscal year ended October 31, 2016, due to the renewal of the biodiesel blenders' tax credit leading to additional corn oil demand.

The pounds of corn oil sold during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016, increased by approximately 13.0% as compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2015, due to improvement in corn quality resulting in higher yields and greater efficiency from the corn oil equipment.


26


Cost of Goods Sold

Our two largest costs of production are corn (70.2% of cost of goods sold for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016) and natural gas (5.8% of cost of goods sold for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016). Our total cost of goods sold was approximately 6.4% less during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016 compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2015.
    
Corn

Our average price per bushel of corn for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016 decreased by approximately 6.8% as compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2015 primarily due to lower corn prices. We used approximately 2.0% less bushels of corn in the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016 as compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2015 due to better yields in the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016.
    
We experienced lower corn prices during much of our fiscal year ended October 31, 2016 due to the large corn crop which was harvested in the fall of 2015 and anticipated reduced demand for corn due to the lower renewable volume obligations released by the EPA in November 2015. Corn prices for the third quarter of our 2016 fiscal year rose somewhat in response to early concerns about weather conditions only to decline during the fourth quarter of our 2016 fiscal year due to forecasts of a large corn crop for the fall of 2016.

We recorded gains related to corn derivative instruments of approximately $40,000 for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016. We recorded gains related to corn derivative instruments of approximately $828,000 for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2015.
 
Natural Gas

For the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016, we purchased approximately 0.4% less natural gas as compared to the same period of 2015. This decrease in natural gas usage is primarily due to the decrease in dried distillers grains produced. Our average price per MMBTU of natural gas was 14.5% lower for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016 compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2015.

Natural gas prices were lower on average due to an increased supply resulting primarily from a relatively mild winter during our 2016 fiscal year.

We recorded losses related to natural gas based derivative instruments of approximately $87,000 and $27,000 for the fiscal years ended October 31, 2016 and October 31, 2015, respectively.

Operating Expense

We had operating expense for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016 of $2,686,084 compared to operating expense of $2,411,439 for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2015. Management attributes a portion of this increase in operating expense to an increase in information technology fees, dues and memberships and professional fees. We continue to pursue strategies to optimize efficiencies and maximize production. These efforts may result in a decrease in our operating expenses on a per gallon basis. However, because these expenses do not vary with the level of production at the plant, we expect our operating expenses to remain relatively steady.

Operating Profit

We had operating profit for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016 of $699,243, which is approximately 0.7% of our revenues, compared to operating profit of $5,493,821 for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2015, which is approximately 4.98% of our revenues. This decrease in our profitability for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016, was due primarily to the decrease in the price we received for ethanol relative to the price we paid for corn.

Other Income (Expense), Net
    
We had total other expense for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016 of $176,575 compared to other expense of $440,283 for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2015. Our other expense for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016, consisted primarily of interest expense which was offset in part by income from investments.


27


Changes in Financial Condition for the Fiscal Years Ended October 31, 2017 and 2016

The following table highlights the changes in our financial condition for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017 from our previous fiscal year ended October 31, 2016:

 
October 31, 2017
 
October 31, 2016
Current Assets
$
11,847,401

 
$
13,826,657

Current Liabilities
6,655,688

 
7,194,407

Long-Term Liabilities
7,942,403

 
13,807,492

    
Current Assets. The decrease in current assets at October 31, 2017 was primarily the result of a decrease in our cash and cash equivalents. We used cash to pay a distribution to our members in December 2016, to pay down long-term debt and for capital expenditures. Accounts receivable also decreased due to timing of ethanol shipments and payments at October 31, 2017, as compared to October 31, 2016. These decreases were partially offset by increases in inventories and derivative instruments.
    
Current Liabilities. The decrease in current liabilities at October 31, 2017 was primarily the result of decreases in current maturities of long-term debt and accounts payable which was partially offset by an increase in accrued expenses.

Long-Term Liabilities. Long-term debt decreased at October 31, 2017, as compared to October 31, 2016, primarily due to scheduled principal repayments on our loans and net payments on the Term Revolving Loan.

Liquidity and Capital Resources

Our primary sources of liquidity are our Term Revolving Loan and cash generated from operations. Based on financial forecasts performed by our management, we anticipate that we will have sufficient cash on hand, cash from our current credit facilities, and cash from our operations to continue to operate the ethanol plant at capacity for the next 12 months. We do not currently anticipate seeking additional equity or debt financing in the near term. However, high corn prices significantly increase our cost of goods sold. If increases in cost of goods sold are not offset by corresponding increases in the prices we receive from the sale of our products, these increases in cost of goods sold can have a significant negative impact on our financial performance. If we experience unfavorable operating conditions in the ethanol industry that prevent us from profitably operating the ethanol plant, we could have difficulty maintaining our liquidity and we may have to secure additional debt or equity financing for working capital or other purposes. We do not currently anticipate that we will need to secure additional capital resources for any other significant purchases of property and equipment in the next 12 months.

The following table shows cash flows for the fiscal years ended October 31, 2017 and 2016:

 
October 31, 2017
 
October 31, 2016
 
 
 
 
Net cash provided by operating activities
$
12,109,129

 
$
5,598,364

Net cash used in investing activities
(4,777,814
)
 
(4,633,393
)
Net cash used in financing activities
(8,722,906
)
 
(8,040,814
)

Cash Flow From Operations

We experienced an increase in our cash provided by operating activities for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017, as compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016. This increase was primarily due to an increase in our net income during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017.

Cash Flow From Investing Activities

We used more cash for investing activities during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017 as compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016. This change was primarily due to a decrease in cash distributions from equity method investments received during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017. During the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017, our capital needs were being adequately met through cash from our operating activities and our credit facilities.

    

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Cash Flow From Financing Activities

We used more cash for financing activities during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017, as compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016. This increase was primarily a result of an increase in the amount we paid towards the principal balance on our loan and increased member unit repurchases which were partially offset by a decrease in distributions to our members during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017, as compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016.

The following table shows cash flows for the fiscal years ended October 31, 2016 and 2015:

 
October 31, 2016
 
October 31, 2015
 
 
 
 
Net cash provided by operating activities
$
5,598,364

 
$
11,322,465

Net cash used in investing activities
(4,633,393
)
 
(6,300,090
)
Net cash used in financing activities
(8,040,814
)
 
(11,328,321
)

Cash Flow From Operations

We experienced a decrease in our cash provided by operating activities for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016, as compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2015. This decrease was primarily due to a decrease in our net income during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016.

Cash Flow From Investing Activities

We used less cash for investing activities during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016 as compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2015. This change was primarily due to a decrease in capital expenditures and increased cash distributions from an investment received during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016. During the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016, our capital needs were being adequately met through cash from our operating activities and our credit facilities.

Cash Flow From Financing Activities

We used less cash for financing activities during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016, as compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2015. This decrease was primarily a result of a decrease in distributions we made to our members which was partially offset by an increase in the amount we paid towards the principal balance on our loans and increased member unit repurchases during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016, as compared to the fiscal year ended October 31, 2015.
    
Short-Term and Long-Term Debt Sources
    
On January 22, 2016, we entered into a Second Amended and Restated Credit Agreement with AgStar Financial Services, PCA, which amended the Amended and Restated Credit Agreement dated September 22, 2014. In connection therewith, as of the same date, we executed Second Amended and Restated Term Notes, Second Amended and Restated Term Revolving Notes, an Amended and Restated Security Agreement and a Second Amended and Restated Mortgage, Security Agreement, Assignment of Leases and Fixture Financing Statement. The Second Amended and Restated Credit Agreement decreases the Term Loan from $27,000,000 to $15,000,000, increases the Term Revolving Loan from $5,000,000 to $15,000,000 and eliminates the Revolving Line of Credit. Subsequent to the fiscal year end, on November 29, 2017, Compeer Financial f/k/a AgStar Financial Services, PCA ("Compeer"),waived our violations, at October 31, 2017, of the $5,000,000 limitation on annual capital expenditures as set forth in the Second Amended and Restated Credit Agreement.
            
Term Loan
    
The Term Loan is for $15,000,000 with a variable interest rate that is equal to the 30-day LIBOR rate plus 325 basis points with no minimum interest rate. The applicable interest rate at October 31, 2017 was 4.49%. Monthly principal payments are due on the Term Loan of approximately $250,000 plus accrued interest. Payments are based upon a five year amortization and the Term Loan is fully amortized. The outstanding balance on this note was $9,750,000 at October 31, 2017. We may convert the Term Loan to a fixed rate loan, subject to certain conditions as described in the Second Amended and Restated Credit Agreement and with the consent of AgStar.

    

29


Term Revolving Loan

The Term Revolving Loan is for up to $15,000,000 with a variable interest rate that is the 30-day LIBOR rate plus 325 basis points with no minimum interest rate. The applicable interest rate at October 31, 2017 was 4.49%. The availability under the Term Revolving Loan increases to $20,000,000 after the Term Loan is paid down to $10,000,000 so long as at least one or more of the participating banks agrees to raise its commitment. The Term Revolving Loan may be advanced, repaid and re-borrowed during the term. Monthly interest payments are due on the Term Revolving Loan with payment of all amounts outstanding due on January 22, 2023. The outstanding balance on this note was $1,000,000 at October 31, 2017. We also have $1,500,000 in letters of credit outstanding at October 31, 2017 which reduce the amount available under the Term Revolving Loan. We pay interest at a rate of 1.50% on amounts outstanding for the letters of credit. We are also required to pay unused commitment fees for the Term Revolving Loan as defined in the Second Amended and Restated Credit Agreement.

Covenants and other Miscellaneous Financing Agreement Terms
    
The loan facility with Compeer is secured by substantially all business assets. We executed a mortgage in favor of Compeer creating a first lien on our real estate and plant and a security interest in all personal property located on the premises and assigned in favor of Compeer, all rents and leases to our property, our marketing contracts, our risk management services contract, and our natural gas, electricity, water service and grain procurement agreements.

We are also subject to various financial and non-financial covenants that limit distributions and debt and require minimum debt service coverage, tangible net worth, and working capital requirements. Our debt service coverage ratio is to be no less than 1.25:1.00 measured annually by comparing our adjusted EBITDA to our scheduled payments of principal and interest. Our minimum working capital is $8,250,000, which is calculated as current assets plus the amount available for drawing under our Term Revolving Loan and undrawn amounts on outstanding letters of credit, less current liabilities, and is measured quarterly.

We are limited to annual capital expenditures of $5,000,000 without prior approval, incurring additional debt over certain amounts without prior approval, and making additional investments as described in the Amended and Restated Credit Agreement without prior approval. We are allowed to make cash distributions to members as frequently as monthly in an amount equal to 75% of net income if working capital is greater than or equal to $8,250,000, or 100% of net income if working capital is greater than or equal to $11,000,000, or an unlimited amount if working capital is greater than or equal to $11,000,000 and there is no outstanding balance on the Term Loan.

Presently, we are meeting our liquidity needs and complying with our financial covenants and the other terms of our loan agreements with Compeer. Compeer waived our violation, at October 31, 2017, of the $5,000,000 limitation on annual capital expenditures. We will continue to work with Compeer to try to ensure that the terms of our loan agreements are met going forward. However, we cannot provide any assurance that our actions will result in sustained profitable operations or that we will not be in violation of our loan covenants or in default on our principal payments in the future. Should unfavorable market conditions result in our violation of the terms or covenants of our loan and we fail to obtain a waiver of any such term or covenant, Compeer could deem us in default of our loans and require us to immediately repay a significant portion or possibly the entire outstanding balance of our loans. In the event of a default, Compeer could also elect to proceed with a foreclosure action on our plant.

Capital Lease

We entered into a series of related definitive agreements dated September 26, 2013 with Butamax which include an Easement for Construction and Process Demonstration Agreement, an Equipment Lease Agreement, a Technology License Agreement, a Technology Demonstration Risk Reduction Agreement and a Security Agreement (collectively, the "Agreements") pursuant to which Butamax constructed, installed and leases its corn oil separation system and licenses to the Company its proprietary, patent-protected corn oil separation technology.  Butamax retains ownership of the corn oil separation system and technology but leases it to the Company for a term of 120 months subject to Butamax's right to remove the system if we are in breach of the Agreements. The term of the lease may also be extended or terminated pursuant to the terms of the Agreements and we are responsible for repairs and maintenance of the system and bear the risk of loss. In return, we agree to payment of certain license fees which are subject to being reduced under the terms of the Agreements if the corn oil separation system does not meet certain performance goals.  The Agreements provide that the corn oil separation system shall be conveyed to the Company at the end of the term so long as we are not in breach of the Agreements. We granted a security interest to Butamax in the corn oil separation system to secure our obligations under the Agreements.  Pursuant to the Agreements, we agreed, subject to certain obligations of confidentiality, to provide Butamax with Company information on a monthly basis including business and financial information and have granted Butamax the option to have a representative present in board and committee meetings as an observer.  We also agreed to give Butamax notice in the event of an issuance or sale of membership interests or convertible debt instruments.  If definitive agreements for biobutanol production are not executed (please refer to “ITEM 1 - Business -

30


Butamax Advanced Biofuels Letter of Intent), either the Company or Butamax may request that the corn oil separation system be removed and the license for the technology terminated.  We recorded this as a capital lease in April, 2014. The total outstanding commitment under the lease as of October 31, 2017 is $0.

Capital Expenditures    
We added 600,000 bushels of additional grain storage at a cost of approximately $1,600,000. The grain storage was put into service in August 2017 and was funded with our existing credit facilities and cash generated from operations.

Contractual Cash Obligations

In addition to our long-term debt obligations, we have certain other contractual cash obligations and commitments. The following tables provide information regarding our contractual obligations and approximate commitments as of October 31, 2017:

 
Payment Due by Period
 
Total
Less than One Year
One to Three Years
Three to Five Years
After Five Years
Long-Term Debt Obligations
$
10,750,000

$
2,750,000

$
6,000,000

$
1,000,000

$
1,000,000

Operating Lease Obligations
493,200

295,920

197,280



Purchase Obligations
7,354,519

6,432,259

922,260



Total Contractual Obligations
$
18,597,719

$
9,478,179

$
7,119,540

$
1,000,000

$
1,000,000


Critical Accounting Estimates

Management uses various estimates and assumptions in preparing our financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.  These estimates and assumptions affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities, the disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities, and the reported revenues and expenses. Accounting estimates that are the most important to the presentation of our results of operations and financial condition, and which require the greatest use of judgment by management, are designated as our critical accounting estimates. We have the following critical accounting estimates:

Long-Lived Assets
         
We review long-lived assets for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the related carrying amounts may not be recoverable.  Impairment testing for assets requires various estimates and assumptions, including an allocation of cash flows to those assets and, if required, an estimate of the fair value of those assets.  Our estimates are based upon assumptions believed to be reasonable, but which are inherently uncertain and unpredictable. These valuations require the use of management's assumptions, which do not reflect unanticipated events and circumstances that may occur.  Given the significant assumptions required and the possibility that actual conditions will differ, we consider the assessment of carrying value of property and equipment to be a critical accounting estimate.

Inventory Valuation

We value our inventory at lower of cost or net realizable value. Our estimates are based upon assumptions believed to be reasonable, but which are inherently uncertain and unpredictable. These valuations require the use of management's assumptions which do not reflect unanticipated events and circumstances that may occur. In our analysis, we consider corn costs and ethanol prices, break-even points for our plant and our risk management strategies in place through our derivative instruments. Given the significant assumptions required and the possibility that actual conditions will differ, we consider the valuation of the lower of cost or net realizable value on inventory to be a critical accounting estimate.

Derivatives

We are exposed to market risks from changes in interest rates, corn, natural gas, and ethanol prices. We may seek to minimize these commodity price fluctuation risks through the use of derivative instruments. In the event we utilize derivative instruments, we will attempt to link these instruments to financing plans, sales plans, market developments, and pricing activities. Such instruments in and of themselves can result in additional costs due to unexpected directional price movements.


31


We have entered into ethanol, corn and natural gas derivatives in order to protect cash flows from fluctuations caused by volatility in commodity prices. In practice, as markets move, we actively attempt to manage our risk and adjust hedging strategies as appropriate. We do not use hedge accounting which would match the gain or loss on our hedge positions to the specific commodity contracts being hedged. Instead, we use fair value accounting for our hedge positions, which means that as the current market price of our hedge position changes, the gains and losses are immediately recognized in our cost of goods sold. The immediate recognition of hedging gains and losses under fair value accounting can cause net income (loss) to be volatile from quarter to quarter due to the timing of the change in value of the derivative instruments relative to the cost and use of the commodity being hedged.

As of October 31, 2017, the fair values of our commodity-based derivative instruments are a net liability of approximately $1,602,000. As the prices of the hedged commodity moves in reaction to market trends and information, our statement of operations will be affected depending on the impact such market movements have on the value of our derivative instruments. Depending on market movements, crop prospects and weather, these price protection positions may cause immediate adverse effects, but are expected to protect the Company over the term of the contracts for the hedged amounts.

Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements

We do not have any off-balance sheet arrangements.

ITEM 7A. QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK

We are exposed to the impact of market fluctuations associated with interest rates and commodity prices as discussed below. We have no exposure to foreign currency risk as all of our business is conducted in U.S. Dollars. We use derivative financial instruments as part of an overall strategy to manage market risk. We may use cash, futures and option contracts to hedge changes to the commodity prices of corn and natural gas. We do not enter into these derivative financial instruments for trading or speculative purposes, nor do we designate these contracts as hedges for accounting purposes.

Interest Rate Risk

We are exposed to market risk from changes in interest rates. Exposure to interest rate risk results primarily from our Term Loan and our Term Revolving Loan, each bearing a variable interest rate.  As of October 31, 2017, we had $9,750,000 outstanding on the Term Loan and $1,000,000 outstanding on the Term Revolving Loan. Interest will accrue at the 30-day LIBOR rate plus 325 basis points. The applicable interest rate on these loans at October 31, 2017 was 4.49%. If we were to experience a 10% adverse change in LIBOR, the annual effect such change would have on our statement of operations, based on the amount we had outstanding on our Term Loan and Term Revolving Loan at October 31, 2017, would be approximately $48,000.

The specifics of each note are discussed in greater detail in “Item 7 - Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Liquidity and Capital Resources.”

Commodity Price Risk

We expect to be exposed to market risk from changes in commodity prices.  Exposure to commodity price risk results from our dependence on corn and natural gas in the ethanol production process and the sale of ethanol, distillers grains and corn oil. We may seek to minimize the risks from fluctuations in the prices of raw material inputs through the use of corn commodity-based and natural gas derivatives. These derivatives are not designated as effective hedges for accounting purposes. For derivative instruments that are not accounted for as hedges, or for the ineffective portions of qualifying hedges, the change in fair value is recorded through earnings in the period of change. Corn and natural gas derivative changes in fair market value are included in costs of goods sold.

In the ordinary course of business, we enter into forward contracts for our commodity purchases. At October 31, 2017, we have approximately 2,166,000 bushels of forward fixed basis corn contracts and 1,133,000 bushels of forward fixed price corn contracts valued at approximately $3,623,000. These purchase contracts are for various delivery periods through December 2018. At October 31, 2017, we have approximately 1,275,000 MMBTUs of forward natural gas fixed price purchase contracts valued at approximately $3,616,000 for delivery periods through September 2019. In addition, at October 31, 2017, we have approximately 90,000 gallons of forward fixed price denaturant purchase contracts valued at approximately $112,000 for delivery periods through December 2017.

In the ordinary course of business, we enter into forward contracts for our commodity sales. At October 31, 2017 we have no forward fixed price ethanol sales contracts. At October 31, 2017, we have approximately 10,830 tons of forward fixed

32


price dried distillers grains sales contracts valued at approximately $1,215,000 for delivery periods through March 2018. At October 31, 2017, we have approximately 22,200 tons of forward fixed price modified distillers grains sales contracts valued at approximately $1,243,000 for delivery periods through August 2018. In addition, at October 31, 2017, we have approximately 100,000 pounds of forward fixed price corn oil sales contracts valued at approximately $26,000 for delivery periods through November 2017.
At October 31, 2017, we have open positions for 2,700,000 bushels of corn and 15,000 dekatherms of natural gas. These derivatives have not been designated as effective hedges for accounting purposes and are forecasted to settle within the next twelve months. We recorded gains due to changes in the fair value of our outstanding corn derivative positions for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017 of approximately $1,751,000. At October 31, 2016, we recorded gains due to changes in the fair value of our outstanding corn derivative positions of approximately $40,000. For the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017, we recorded gains due to changes in the fair value of our outstanding ethanol derivative positions of approximately $569,000. For the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016, we recorded losses due to changes in the fair value of our outstanding ethanol derivative positions of approximately $230,000. For the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017, we recorded gains due to the change in fair value of our outstanding natural gas derivative positions of approximately $11,000. For the fiscal year ended October 31, 2016, we recorded losses due to the change in fair value of our outstanding natural gas derivative positions of approximately $87,000.

As commodity prices move in reaction to market trends and information, our income statement will be affected depending on the impact such market movements have on the value of our derivative instruments. Depending on market movements, crop prospects and weather, these price protection positions may cause immediate adverse effects, but are expected to produce long-term positive growth for us.

A sensitivity analysis has been prepared to estimate our exposure to ethanol, distillers grains, corn and natural gas price risk. Market risk related to these factors is estimated as the potential change in income resulting from a hypothetical 10% adverse change in the average cost of our corn and natural gas prices and average ethanol and distillers grains prices as of October 31, 2017 net of the forward and future contracts used to hedge our market risk for corn and natural gas usage requirements. The volumes are based on our expected use and sale of these commodities for a one year period from October 31, 2017. The results of this analysis, which may differ from actual results, are approximately as follows:
 
Estimated Volume Requirements for the next 12 months (net of forward and futures contracts)
Unit of Measure
Hypothetical Adverse Change in Price as of
10/31/17
Approximate Adverse Change to Income
Natural Gas
1,457,750

MMBTU
10
%
 
$
423,000

Ethanol
59,500,000

Gallons
10
%
 
$
7,616,000

Corn
20,588,235

Bushels
10
%
 
$
6,094,000

DDGs
140,823

Tons
10
%
 
$
1,619,000


For comparison purposes, the results of our sensitivity analysis for October 31, 2016, were as follows:
 
Estimated Volume Requirements for the next 12 months (net of forward and futures contracts)
Unit of Measure
Hypothetical Adverse Change in Price as of
10/31/16
Approximate Adverse Change to Income
Natural Gas
1,499,390

MMBTU
10
%
 
$
534,532

Ethanol
59,499,600

Gallons
10
%
 
$
7,913,447

Corn
20,659,583

Bushels
10
%
 
$
6,156,556

DDGs
141,312

Tons
10
%
 
$
1,457,775



33


ITEM 8. FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AND SUPPLEMENTARY DATA


REPORT OF INDEPENDENT REGISTERED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM


rsmlogo1a02.jpg

To the Board of Governors and Members
Highwater Ethanol, LLC

We have audited the accompanying balance sheets of Highwater Ethanol, LLC (the Company) as of October 31, 2017 and 2016, and the related statements of operations, changes in members’ equity, and cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended October 31, 2017. These financial statements are the responsibility of the Company’s management. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on these financial statements based on our audits.

We conducted our audits in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States). Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free of material misstatement. The Company is not required to have, nor were we engaged to perform, an audit of its internal control over financial reporting. Our audits included consideration of internal control over financial reporting as a basis for designing audit procedures that are appropriate in the circumstances, but not for the purpose of expressing an opinion on the effectiveness of the Company’s internal control over financial reporting. Accordingly, we express no such opinion. An audit also includes examining, on a test basis, evidence supporting the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements, assessing the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall financial statement presentation. We believe that our audits provide a reasonable basis for our opinion.

In our opinion, the financial statements referred to above present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the Company as of October 31, 2017 and 2016, and the results of its operations and its cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended October 31, 2017, in conformity with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles.

/s/ RSM US LLP

Sioux Falls, South Dakota
January 24, 2018











34


HIGHWATER ETHANOL, LLC
Balance Sheets

 ASSETS
 
October 31, 2017
 
October 31, 2016

 

 

Current Assets
 

 

Cash and cash equivalents
 
$
738,209

 
$
2,129,800

Derivative instruments
 
800,199

 
540,286

Accounts receivable
 
2,838,154

 
4,139,687

Inventories
 
7,380,706

 
6,958,903

Prepaids and other
 
90,133

 
57,981

Total current assets
 
11,847,401

 
13,826,657


 

 

Property and Equipment
 

 

Land and land improvements
 
12,647,512

 
12,647,512

Buildings
 
38,811,666

 
38,564,729

Office equipment
 
1,151,330

 
774,776

Plant and process equipment
 
74,364,700

 
69,869,289

Vehicles
 
74,094

 
74,094

Construction in progress
 
256,923

 
407,989


 
127,306,225

 
122,338,389

Less accumulated depreciation
 
(55,254,778
)
 
(47,196,051
)
Net property and equipment
 
72,051,447

 
75,142,338


 

 

Other Assets
 

 

Investments
 
2,641,755

 
2,693,844

Deposits
 
191,457

 
191,457

Total other assets
 
2,833,212

 
2,885,301


 

 

Total Assets
 
$
86,732,060

 
$
91,854,296

 
 
 
 
 

LIABILITIES AND MEMBERS' EQUITY
 
October 31, 2017
 
October 31, 2016

 

 

Current Liabilities
 

 

Accounts payable
 
$
2,765,060

 
$
2,882,943

Accrued expenses
 
1,175,100

 
1,014,137

Current maturities of long-term debt
 
2,715,528

 
3,297,327

Total current liabilities
 
6,655,688

 
7,194,407


 

 

Long-Term Debt
 
7,942,403

 
13,807,492


 

 

Commitments and Contingencies (Note 11)
 

 


 

 

Members' Equity
 

 

Members' equity, 4,813.5 and 4,892 units issued and outstanding
 
72,133,969

 
70,852,397

Total Liabilities and Members’ Equity
 
$
86,732,060

 
$
91,854,296

 
 
 
 
 

Notes to Financial Statements are an integral part of this Statement.


35


HIGHWATER ETHANOL, LLC
Statements of Operations


Fiscal Year Ended
 
Fiscal Year Ended
 
Fiscal Year Ended

October 31, 2017
 
October 31, 2016
 
October 31, 2015


 

 

Revenues
$
100,225,143

 
$
98,945,344

 
$
110,237,009



 

 

Cost of Goods Sold
93,476,303

 
95,560,017

 
102,331,749



 

 

Gross Profit
6,748,840

 
3,385,327

 
7,905,260



 

 

Operating Expenses
2,739,770

 
2,686,084

 
2,411,439



 

 

Operating Profit
4,009,070

 
699,243

 
5,493,821



 

 

Other Income (Expense)

 

 

Interest income
1,389

 
3,591

 
13,587

Other income
111,945

 
355,185

 
363,591

Interest expense
(700,493
)
 
(740,962
)
 
(1,068,944
)
Income from equity method investments
97,401

 
205,611

 
251,483

Total other expense, net
(489,758
)
 
(176,575
)
 
(440,283
)


 

 

Net Income
$
3,519,312

 
$
522,668

 
$
5,053,538

 
 
 

 

Weighted Average Units Outstanding
4,834

 
4,920

 
4,953

Net Income Per Unit
$
728.03

 
$
106.23

 
$
1,020.30

Distributions Per Unit
$
345

 
$
400

 
$
1,125


Notes to Financial Statements are an integral part of this Statement.

36


HIGHWATER ETHANOL, LLC
Statements of Changes in Members' Equity

 
Members' Equity
 
 
Balance - October 31, 2014
$
73,266,716

 
 
Net income
5,053,538

 
 
Member distributions
(5,572,125
)
 
 
Member unit repurchase, 17 units
(136,000
)
 
 
Balance - October 31, 2015
72,612,129

 
 
Net income
522,668

 
 
Member distributions
(1,974,400
)
 
 
Member unit repurchase, 44 units
(308,000
)
 
 
Balance - October 31, 2016
70,852,397

 
 
Net income
3,519,312

 
 
Member distributions
(1,687,740
)
 
 
Member unit repurchase, 78.5 units
(550,000
)
 
 
Balance - October 31, 2017
$
72,133,969


Notes to Financial Statements are an integral part of this Statement.


37


HIGHWATER ETHANOL, LLC
Statements of Cash Flows

Fiscal Year Ended
 
Fiscal Year Ended
 
Fiscal Year Ended

October 31, 2017
 
October 31, 2016
 
October 31, 2015


 

 
 
Cash Flows from Operating Activities

 

 
 
Net income
$
3,519,312

 
$
522,668

 
$
5,053,538

Adjustments to reconcile net income to net cash provided by operations

 

 
 
Depreciation and amortization
8,114,306

 
7,501,191

 
6,932,981

Income from equity method investments
(97,401
)
 
(205,611
)
 
(251,483
)
Gain on sale of asset
(11,793
)
 

 

Non-cash patronage income
(192,094
)
 
(518,371
)
 
(255,375
)
Change in assets and liabilities

 

 
 
Accounts receivable, including members
1,301,533

 
(1,162,555
)
 
1,405,239

Inventories
(421,803
)
 
(1,851,502
)
 
(812,210
)
Derivative instruments
(259,913
)
 
(41,084
)
 
(241,269
)
Prepaids and other
(32,152
)
 
40,400

 
(42,731
)
Accounts payable
28,171

 
1,312,218

 
(444,445
)
Accrued expenses
160,963

 
1,010

 
(21,780
)
Net cash provided by operating activities
12,109,129

 
5,598,364

 
11,322,465



 

 
 
Cash Flows from Investing Activities

 

 
 
Capital expenditures
(5,137,921
)
 
(5,156,441
)
 
(6,717,490
)
Proceeds from sale of asset
18,523

 

 

Distributions from equity method investments
341,584

 
523,048

 
417,400

   Net cash used in investing activities
(4,777,814
)
 
(4,633,393
)
 
(6,300,090
)


 

 
 
Cash Flows from Financing Activities

 

 
 
Payments on long-term debt
(6,485,166
)
 
(5,758,414
)
 
(5,620,196
)
Member unit repurchases, 78.5, 44 and 17 units
(550,000
)
 
(308,000
)
 
(136,000
)
Member distributions
(1,687,740
)
 
(1,974,400
)
 
(5,572,125
)
Net cash used in financing activities
(8,722,906
)
 
(8,040,814
)
 
(11,328,321
)


 

 
 
Net Decrease in Cash and Cash Equivalents
(1,391,591
)
 
(7,075,843
)
 
(6,305,946
)


 

 
 
Cash and cash equivalents – Beginning of Period
2,129,800

 
9,205,643

 
15,511,589



 

 
 
Cash and cash equivalents – End of Period
$
738,209

 
$
2,129,800

 
$
9,205,643

 
 
 
 
 
 
Supplemental Cash Flow Information

 

 
 
Cash paid for interest expense
$
585,348

 
$
750,575

 
$
916,442



 

 
 
Supplemental Disclosure of Noncash Financing and Investing Activities

 

 
 
Construction in progress included in accounts payable
$
44,216

 
$
190,270

 
$
124,422


Notes to Financial Statements are an integral part of this Statement.

38

HIGHWATER ETHANOL, LLC
Notes to Financial Statements
October 31, 2017 and 2016

1. SUMMARY OF SIGNIFICANT ACCOUNTING POLICIES

Nature of Business

Highwater Ethanol, LLC, (a Minnesota Limited Liability Company) operates a 50 million gallon per year ethanol plant in Lamberton, Minnesota. The Company produces and sells fuel ethanol and co-products of the fuel ethanol production process, in the continental United States, Mexico and Canada.

Accounting Estimates

Management uses estimates and assumptions in preparing these financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. Those estimates and assumptions affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities, the disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities, and the reported revenues and expenses. The Company uses estimates and assumptions in accounting for significant matters, among others, the carrying value of property and equipment and related impairment testing, inventory valuation, and derivative instruments. Actual results could differ from those estimates and such differences may be material to the financial statements. The Company periodically reviews estimates and assumptions and the effects of revisions are reflected in the period in which the revision is made.

Revenue Recognition

The Company generally sells ethanol and related products pursuant to marketing agreements. The Company’s products are shipped FOB shipping point. Revenues are recognized when the customer has taken title and has assumed the risks and rewards of ownership, prices are fixed or determinable and collectability is reasonably assured. For ethanol sales, title transfers when loaded into the rail car and for distiller’s grains when the loaded rail cars leave the plant facility.

In accordance with the Company’s agreements for the marketing and sale of ethanol and related products, marketing fees and freight due to the marketers are deducted from the gross sales price at the time incurred. Revenue is recorded net of these marketing fees and freight as they do not provide an identifiable benefit that is sufficiently separable from the sale of ethanol and related products.

Cash and Cash Equivalents

The Company maintains its accounts primarily at one financial institution. The cash balances regularly exceed amounts insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The Company does not believe it is exposed to any significant credit risk on cash and cash equivalent balances.

Derivative Instruments

Derivatives are recognized in the balance sheets and the measurement of these instruments are at fair value. In order for a derivative to qualify as a hedge, specific criteria must be met and appropriate documentation maintained. Gains and losses from derivatives that do not qualify as hedges, or are undesignated, must be recognized immediately in earnings. If the derivative does qualify as a hedge, depending on the nature of the hedge, changes in the fair value of the derivative will be either offset against the change in fair value of the hedged assets, liabilities, or firm commitments through earnings or recognized in other comprehensive income until the hedged item is recognized in earnings.

Contracts are evaluated to determine whether the contracts are derivatives. Certain contracts that literally meet the definition of a derivative may be exempted as “normal purchases or normal sales”. Normal purchases and normal sales are contracts that provide for the purchase or sale of something other than a financial instrument or derivative instrument that will be delivered in quantities expected to be used or sold over a reasonable period in the normal course of business. Contracts that meet the requirements of normal purchases or sales are documented as normal and exempted from accounting as derivatives, therefore, are not marked to market in our financial statements.

The Company entered into corn commodity-based and natural gas derivatives in order to protect cash flows from fluctuations caused by volatility in prices. These derivatives are not designated as effective hedges for accounting purposes. For derivative instruments that are not accounted for as hedges, or for the ineffective portions of qualifying hedges, the change in fair value is

39

HIGHWATER ETHANOL, LLC
Notes to Financial Statements
October 31, 2017 and 2016

recorded through earnings in the period of change. Corn and natural gas derivative changes in fair market value are included in costs of goods sold.

Accounts Receivable

Credit terms are extended to customers in the normal course of business. The Company routinely monitors accounts receivable and customer balances are generally kept current at 30 days or less. The Company generally requires no collateral.

Accounts receivable are recorded at their estimated net realizable value. Accounts are considered past due if payment is not made on a timely basis in accordance with the Company’s credit terms. Accounts considered uncollectible are written off. The Company’s estimate of the allowance for doubtful accounts is based on historical experience, its evaluation of the current status of receivables, and unusual circumstances, if any. At October 31, 2017 and 2016, the Company believed that such amounts would be collectible and an allowance was not considered necessary.

Inventories

Inventories consist of raw materials, supplies, work in process and finished goods. Raw materials and supplies are stated at the lower of cost (first-in, first-out method) or net realizable value. Work in process and finished goods are stated at the lower of average cost or net realizable value.

Property and Equipment

Property and equipment is stated at cost. Depreciation is provided over an estimated useful life by use of the straight line method. Maintenance and repairs are expensed as incurred; major improvements and betterments are capitalized. The present value of capital lease obligations is classified as long-term debt and the related assets will be included with property and equipment. Amortization of property and equipment under capital lease is included with depreciation expense.

Depreciation is computed using the straight-line method over the following estimated useful lives:
 
Minimum Years
Maximum Years
Land improvements
15
20
Buildings
10
20
Office equipment
5
5
Plant and process equipment
10
20
Vehicles
7
7

Carrying Value of Long-Lived Assets

Long-lived assets, such as property and equipment, are reviewed for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of an asset may not be recoverable. If circumstances require a long-lived asset be tested for possible impairment, the Company first compares undiscounted cash flows expected to be generated by an asset to the carrying value of the asset. If the carrying value of the long-lived asset is not recoverable on an undiscounted cash flow basis, impairment is recognized to the extent that the carrying value exceeds its fair value. Fair value is determined through various valuation techniques including discounted cash flow models, quoted market values and third-party independent appraisals, as considered necessary.

In accordance with the Company’s policy for evaluating impairment of long-lived assets described above, when a triggering event occurs management evaluates the recoverability of the facilities based on projected future cash flows from operations over the facilities’ estimated useful lives. In determining the projected future undiscounted cash flows, the Company makes significant assumptions concerning the future viability of the ethanol industry, the future price of corn in relation to the future price of ethanol and the overall demand in relation to production and supply capacity. The Company has not recorded any impairment as of October 31, 2017 and 2016.


40

HIGHWATER ETHANOL, LLC
Notes to Financial Statements
October 31, 2017 and 2016

Fair Value of Financial Instruments

The carrying value of cash and cash equivalents, accounts receivable, and accounts payable, and other working capital items approximate fair value at October 31, 2017 and 2016 due to the short maturity nature of these instruments.

Commodities contracts are carried at fair value, based on dealer quotes and live trading levels.

The Company believes the carrying amount of the long-term debt approximates fair value due to a significant portion of total indebtedness containing variable interest rates and this rate is a market interest rate for these borrowings.

Equity Method Investments

The Company has a 7% investment interest in an unlisted company, Renewable Fuels Marketing Group, LLC (RPMG), which markets the Company’s ethanol. The Company also has a 7% ownership interest in Lawrenceville Tank, LLC (LT), which owns and operates a trans load/tank facility near Atlanta, Georgia. These investments are flow-through entities and are being accounted for by the equity method of accounting under which the Company’s share of net income is recognized as income in the Company’s statements of operations and added to the investment account. Distributions or dividends received from the investments are treated as a reduction of the investment account. The Company consistently follows the practice of recognizing the net income based on a one month lag. Therefore, net income related to RPMG is reported in the Company’s statements of operations for the years ended October 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015 is based on RPMG's results of operations for the twelve month periods ended September 30, 2017, 2016 and 2015. Net income related to LT which is reported in the Company’s statement of operations for the years ended October 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015 is based on LT's results of operations for the twelve month periods ended September 30, 2017 and 2016, and the ten months ended September 30, 2015.

Net Income per Unit

Basic net income per unit is computed by dividing net income by the weighted average number of members’ units outstanding during the period. Diluted net income per unit is computed by dividing net income by the weighted average number of members’ units and members’ unit equivalents outstanding during the period. There were no member unit equivalents outstanding during the periods presented; accordingly, for all periods presented, the Company’s basic and diluted net income per unit are the same.

Income Taxes

The Company is treated as a partnership for federal and state income tax purposes and generally does not incur income taxes. Instead, their income or losses are included in the income tax returns of the members and partners. Accordingly, no provision or liability for federal or state income taxes has been included in these financial statements.

The Company recognizes and measures tax benefits when realization of the benefits is uncertain under a two-step approach. The first step is to determine whether the benefit meets the more-likely-than-not condition for recognition and the second step is to determine the amount to be recognized based on the cumulative probability that exceeds 50%. The Company has not recognized any liability for unrecognized tax benefits and has not identified any uncertain tax positions.

The Company files income tax returns in the U.S. federal and Minnesota state jurisdictions. The Company is no longer subject to U.S. federal and state income tax examinations by tax authorities beyond three years.

Railcar Damages Accrual

In accordance with the railcar lease agreements, the Company is required to pay for damages considered to be in excess of normal wear and tear at the termination of the lease. The Company accrues the estimated cost for railcar damages over the term of the lease.

Environmental Liabilities

The Company’s operations are subject to environmental laws and regulations adopted by various governmental entities in the jurisdiction in which it operates. These laws require the Company to investigate and remediate the effects of the release or disposal

41

HIGHWATER ETHANOL, LLC
Notes to Financial Statements
October 31, 2017 and 2016

of materials at its location. Accordingly, the Company has adopted policies, practices, and procedures in the areas of pollution control, occupational health, and the production, handling, storage, and use of hazardous materials to prevent material environmental or other damage, and to limit the financial liability, which could result from such events. Environmental liabilities are recorded when the liability is probable and the costs can be reasonably estimated.

Segment Reporting

Operating segments are defined as components of an enterprise for which separate financial information is available that is evaluated regularly by the chief operating decision maker or decision making group in deciding how to allocate resources and in assessing performance. The Company has determined that it has one reportable business segment, the manufacture and marketing of fuel-grade ethanol and the co-products of the ethanol production process. The Company's chief operating decision maker reviews financial information of the Company as a whole for purposes of assessing financial performance and making operating decisions. Accordingly, the Company considers itself to be operating in a single industry segment.

Recent Accounting Pronouncements

In May 2014, the FASB issued ASU No. 2014-09 (ASU 2014-09), Revenue from Contracts with Customers, which supersedes nearly all existing revenue recognition guidance under U.S. GAAP. The new standard requires a company to recognize revenue when it transfers goods or services to customers in an amount that reflects the consideration that the company expects to receive for those goods or services. Additionally, the guidance requires improved disclosures to help users of financial statements better understand the nature, amount, timing, and uncertainty of revenue and cash flows arising from contracts with customers. ASU 2014-09 is effective for annual reporting periods beginning after December 15, 2017, including interim periods within that reporting period, which is the Company’s first quarter of fiscal year 2019. Early application is permitted one year earlier. The new standard allows for the amendment to be applied either retrospectively to each prior reporting period presented or retrospectively as a cumulative-effect adjustment as of the date of adoption. The Company is evaluating the effect that ASU 2014-09 will have on its financial statements and related disclosures, including which transition method it will adopt.

In April 2015, the FASB issued ASU No. 2015-03 (ASU 2015-03), Interest-Imputation of Interest, which simplifies the presentation of debt issuance costs. The new standard requires debt issuance costs to be presented as a reduction to the carrying amount of the related debt balance. ASU 2015-03 was effective for fiscal periods beginning after December 31, 2015. The Company implemented ASU 2015-03 effective November 1, 2016. The effect was offsetting current and long term debt by $92,069 at October 31, 2017 and retroactively offsetting long term debt by $130,347 at October 31, 2016. 
In February 2016, the FASB issued ASU 2016-02, Leases (Topic 842). This ASU requires lessees to recognize a lease liability and a right-to-use asset for all leases, including operating leases, with a term greater than twelve months on its balance sheet. This ASU is effective in annual and interim periods in fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2018, with early adoption permitted, and requires a modified retrospective transition method. The Company is currently in the process of evaluating the impact that this new guidance will have on the Financial Statements.

In August 2016, the FASB issued ASU No. 2016-15 (ASU 2016-15), Statement of Cash Flows (Topic 230), which clarifies and provides guidance for specific cash flow issues. ASU 2016-15 is effective for fiscal periods beginning after December 15, 2017. The Company is currently in the process of evaluating the impact that this new guidance will have on the Financial Statements.
In January 2016, the FASB issued ASU No. 2016-01 (ASU2016-01), Financial Instruments-Overall (Subtopic 825-10), which is intended to make financial statement information on recognition, measurement, presentation, and disclosure of financial instrument more useful. ASU 2016-01 is effective for fiscal periods beginning after December 15, 2017. The Company is currently in the process of evaluating the impact that this new guidance will have on the Financial Statements.
2. UNCERTAINTIES

The Company derives substantially all of its revenues from the sale of ethanol, distillers grains and corn oil. These products are commodities and the market prices for these products display substantial volatility and are subject to a number of factors which are beyond the control of the Company. The Company’s most significant manufacturing inputs are corn and natural gas. The price of these commodities is also subject to substantial volatility and uncontrollable market factors. In addition, these input costs do not necessarily fluctuate with the market prices for ethanol and distillers grains. As a result, the Company is subject to significant risk that its operating margins can be reduced or eliminated due to the relative movements in the market prices of its products and

42

HIGHWATER ETHANOL, LLC
Notes to Financial Statements
October 31, 2017 and 2016

major manufacturing inputs. As a result, market fluctuations in the price of or demand for these commodities can have a significant adverse effect on the Company’s operations, profitability, and availability of cash flows to make loan payments and maintain compliance with the loan agreement.

3. INVENTORIES

Inventories consisted of the following at:
 
 
October 31, 2017
 
October 31, 2016
 
 
 
 
 
Raw materials
 
$
2,130,668

 
$
3,243,617

Spare parts and supplies
 
2,938,262

 
2,327,674

Work in process
 
729,167

 
611,347

Finished goods
 
1,582,609

 
776,265

 Total
 
$
7,380,706

 
$
6,958,903


4. DERIVATIVE INSTRUMENTS

As of October 31, 2017, the Company had entered into corn and natural gas derivative instruments, which are required to be recorded as either assets or liabilities at fair value in the balance sheet. The Company uses these instruments to manage risks from changes in market rates and prices. They are not used for speculative purposes. Derivatives qualify for treatment as hedges when there is a high correlation between the change in fair value of the derivative instrument and the related change in value of the underlying hedged item. The Company may designate the hedging instruments based upon the exposure being hedged as a fair value hedge, a cash flow hedge or a hedge against foreign currency exposure. The derivative instruments outstanding at October 31, 2017 are not designated as effective hedges for accounting purposes.

Commodity Contracts

As of October 31, 2017, the Company has open positions for 2,700,000 bushels of corn and 15,000 dekatherms of natural gas. Management expects all open positions outstanding as of October 31, 2017 to be realized within the next twelve months.

The following tables provide details regarding the Company's derivative instruments at October 31:
          Instrument
Balance Sheet location
 
Liabilities
 
 
 
2017
2016
 
 
 


Corn, natural gas and ethanol contracts
 
 
 
 
In gain position
 
 
$
66,438

$
523,218

In loss position
 
 
(1,668,043
)
(1,229,691
)
Deposits with broker
 
 
2,401,804

1,246,759

 
Current assets
 
$
800,199

$
540,286


The following tables provide details regarding the gains (losses) from the Company's derivative instruments in the statements of operations, none of which are designated as hedging instruments:
 
 
Statement of
 
Year Ended October 31
 
 
Operations location
 
2017
2016
2015
Ethanol contracts
 
Revenues
 
568,715

(229,837
)
(41,979
)
Corn contracts
 
Cost of goods sold
 
1,751,018

40,032

827,570

Natural gas contracts
 
Cost of goods sold
 
11,267

(87,331
)
(27,368
)



43

HIGHWATER ETHANOL, LLC
Notes to Financial Statements
October 31, 2017 and 2016

5. FAIR VALUE MEASUREMENTS

Various inputs are considered when determining the value of financial instruments. The inputs or methodologies used for valuing financial instruments are not necessarily an indication of the risk associated with investing in these instruments. These inputs are summarized in the three broad levels listed below:

Level 1 inputs are quoted prices in active markets for identical assets or liabilities as of the reporting date. Active markets are those in which transactions for the asset or liability occur with sufficient frequency and volume to provide pricing information on an ongoing basis.

Level 2 inputs include the following:
Quoted prices in active markets for similar assets or liabilities.
Quoted prices in markets that are not active for identical or similar assets or liabilities.
Inputs other than quoted prices that are observable for the asset or liability.
Inputs that are derived primarily from or corroborated by observable market data by correlation or other means.

Level 3 inputs are unobservable inputs for the asset or liability.

The following table provides information on those assets (liabilities) measured at fair value on a recurring basis.

 
 
Fair Value as of
 
Fair Value Measurement Using
 
 
October 31, 2017
 
Level 1
 
Level 2
 
Level 3
Derivative instrument - commodities
 
$
(1,601,605
)
 
$
(1,601,605
)
 
$

 
$


 
 
Fair Value as of
 
Fair Value Measurement Using
 
 
October 31, 2016
 
Level 1
 
Level 2
 
Level 3
Derivative instrument - commodities
 
$
(706,473
)
 
$
(706,473
)
 
$

 
$


The Company determines the fair value of the commodities contracts by obtaining the fair value measurements from an independent pricing service based on dealer quotes and live trading levels from the Chicago Board of Trade.

6. INVESTMENT IN RPMG

The financial statements of RPMG are summarized as of and for the years ended September 30 as follows: