Cargill expands U.S. ethanol business with Iowa plant

CHICAGO Mon Nov 4, 2013 5:18pm EST

CHICAGO Nov 4 (Reuters) - U.S. agribusiness giant Cargill Inc said on Monday it expanded its corn-based ethanol business by opening a plant in Fort Dodge, Iowa, with the capacity to grind 150,000 bushels of corn daily.

Cargill, one of the top 10 U.S. ethanol producers according to the Renewable Fuels Association, purchased the plant from corn processor Tate & Lyle in 2011 and has spent the past two years retrofitting and expanding the facility.

"When full production capacity is reached, the plant will consume 150,000 bushels of corn a day and turn out five products, including dextrose, ethanol and SweetBran feed for cattle," Al Viaene, manager of Cargill's Fort Dodge plant, said in a statement.

The opening comes as U.S. ethanol margins are improving amid a 40 percent drop in corn prices, or $3 a bushel, from a year ago when ethanol makers struggled to secure feedstocks after the historic Midwest drought of 2012 slashed supplies. This year, U.S. farmers are forecast to a harvest a record large corn crop.

Cargill reported previously its Fort Dodge plant had a target capacity of 115 million gallons of ethanol yearly.

The company was bidding 30 cents over December corn futures in Chicago on Monday, or $4.56 per bushel for corn delivered to its Fort Dodge plant.

Minneapolis-based Cargill, a global commodities giant with annual sales of $136.7 billion in the year ended May 31, also produces ethanol at its corn mills at Blair, Nebraska, and Eddyville, Iowa.

The company also said it will employ more than 100 at the plant. (Editing by G Crosse)

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