CHICAGO May 1 Archer Daniels Midland Co , the largest U.S. producer of ethanol, has resumed running its plants at full capacity due to improved margins, Chief Operating Officer Juan Luciano said on Wednesday.
The agribusiness company brought its plants back to full capacity during the first quarter ended March 31, he said on a call with analysts.
Margins at U.S. ethanol plants climbed after corn prices sank following a U.S. Agriculture Department report showing a larger-than-expected stockpile of the grain as of March 1.
Traders and analysts had thought supplies would be tighter as a result of a savage drought that slashed harvests last year.
The worst drought in half a century last year revived a fierce food versus fuel debate, with some livestock and food producers calling on President Barack Obama to abandon a government mandate that requires converting more than a third of the U.S. corn crop to ethanol.
The administration last fall denied requests from several governors from livestock and oil-producing states for a partial or total waiver of the requirement to use ethanol.
The mandate, known as the Renewable Fuel Standard, will likely continue to exist, ADM Chief Executive Pat Woertz said on the call.