(Updates with quote from spokesman, details on closure)
May 17 Ag Processing Inc, the U.S. largest
farmer-owned cooperative, is permanently closing a Nebraska
ethanol plant that had been idled since February, a company
spokesman said on Friday.
"It just reflects the general industry trend of difficult
economic times for ethanol plants. (Margins) weren't improving
and it's just a difficult decision we had to make," spokesman
Matt Caswell said via telephone.
The plant in the south-central town of Hastings had an
annual capacity of 52 million gallons and was AGP's only ethanol
plant, according to the Renewable Fuels Association.
The company purchased the plant in 1994 when it was idled in
Jasper, Tennessee. It then dismantled the processor and moved it
to Nebraska, where it started operating in 1995.
"It was one of the original ethanol plants and an
older-generation technology," Caswell added.
A soybean processor and vegetable oil refinery at the
Nebraska location will still operate, the company statement
Last summer's drought - the worst in the United States since
1934 - reduced yields for corn, the main feedstock used in
ethanol production, and squeezed profits for makers of the fuel
(Reporting by Michael Hirtzer in Chicago, editing by G Crosse)