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Ethanol Industry Looking Up

August 3, 2008, 10:28 AM

An ethanol consultant says corn prices have dropped somewhat recently -- meaning that some ethanol plants are close to breaking even or making a bit of a profit.
 
Mark Luitjens of Aberdeen says ethanol plants struggled when corn cost $7 a bushel. He says banks won't lend money when profit margins are slim to none.
 
Now, the futures price of corn is about $2.20 a bushel less than it was three weeks ago. 

The price drop is good news for the ethanol industry because cheaper corn reduces a plant's expenses. But the industry might not feel much price relief for a month or so. 

VeraSun Energy of Brookings says it plans to open its ethanol plant in Hankinson, North Dakota, after putting the opening on hold for a time because of market volatility.

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