Ethanol future remains strong in Iowa - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Ethanol future remains strong in Iowa

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DYERSVILLE (KWWL) -- One of the state's largest ethanol producers filed for bankruptcy last month.

Now, South Dakota based VeraSun Energy reportedly sent an e-mail to producers and grain elevators saying it's closing its Dyersville plant.

The doors are still open, some work is still being done, but grain shipments to the plant have stopped.

The company is reorganizing but it also is leaving some farmers in limbo.

Contracts are still in place but payments and shipments are in question.

"The biggest thing is you need to get legal counsel if you have contracts and make sure they handle that part of the business," said Tim Recker, past president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association.

It comes at a critical time.

Iowa is enjoying its 4th largest corn harvest ever.

Many farmers made deals when prices were high.

Now, prices have dropped by nearly half since June.

So have oil prices.

That's a double whammy for ethanol makers.

"We've seen energy prices coming down and ethanol will track with gas prices as they go down and go up. What we're seeing right now is a very, very thin economic picture for them," said Lucy Norton of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.

Still, optimism is high that ethanol in Iowa will continue to prosper for years to come.

"Renewable fuel grown here in the midwest is the answer and it's good for Iowa, the economy, jobs, and farmers who continue to grow a larger crop every year even in a year like this where we had quite a few disasters," said Recker.

Iowa is currently the largest ethanol producer in the U.S. with 42 plants either running or under construction.

And the 100th E-85 station in Iowa opened Monday.

Online Reporter:  Bob Waters

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