KEYC - Mankato News, Weather, Sports - - Ethanol Generated $5 Billion for MN Economy in 2011

Ethanol Generated $5 Billion for MN Economy in 2011

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LE SEUER, Minn. -

For farmer across Minnesota, Ethanol is more than a renewable fuel.

Greg Shwarz with the MN Corn Growers Association says, "The ethanol industry has had a very positive affect on most corn growers. Number one, prices are better; there has been more money to invest in your own operation."

And the benefits of the ethanol industry can be felt by more than just farmers. The MN Department of Agriculture says the industry generated $5 billion for the state's economy last year.

Shwarz says, "It's a great story to tell for MN corn farmers that we are having that great of impact, 12,000 jobs are supported by our industry."

Another benefit, 30% of our livestock feed is now coming from the distiller's grain, which is the byproduct of the process.

Last year's record impact was partly driven by ethanol producers racing to distill as much of the gasoline additive as possible before a federal production tax credit expired at the end of the year.

Shwarz says, "Now that's gone we seen that production has decline a little bit at the beginning of the year, now we are back to almost where we were before."

Greg Shwarz with the MN Corn Growers association says while that tax credit is gone, the industry is doing well, which shows him the ethanol industry will continue to flourish.

Shwarz says, "We've proven that we can survive the economic limits of today's marketplace and still thrive."

With droughts across the country, 2012 may be a tough year, and some ethanol plants have slowed production.

Shwarz says, "There is going to be less corn for levels for livestock, for ethanol, for everyone and prices are going to do their job at rationing down supplies."

There will be ups and downs, but Shwarz says he thinks farmers and the industry will survive.

Livestock farmers have criticized the ethanol industry for diverting corn from animal supplies during the drought.