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COL Government sends $1.3 million for plant

DES MOINES -- The federal government will send $1.3 million to Fort Dodge for a water main construction project that will help get a new ethanol plant built.

The money will come from the Economic Development Administration, said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, in a statement.

The ethanol plant will create 42 jobs and attract private investment, Grassley said.

"This funding will help make sure Fort Dodge has the infrastructure in place to support local economic growth," he said. "Grants like this help to make sure communities across our state are strong and growing."

The Economic Development Administration offers assistance to areas experiencing high unemployment, low income or economic distress.

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Army Corps announces staff cuts

MINNEAPOLIS -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied claims that planned staff cuts at three locks and dams in Minneapolis will makes the facilities less secure and the surrounding river less safe.

The corps plans to save about $570,000 a year in labor costs but cutting back to one-person shifts during slow times of the year. The change would be phased in over four years, according to the corps' district office.

The proposal is the product of a study earlier this year that reviewed the conceivability of switching from two-person shifts to one-person shifts at the three locks and dams during off-peak hours on a year-round basis.

The corps will begin implementing the process next spring.

Iowa ethanol plants double to 10

JOHNSTON, Iowa -- The number of Iowa dry mill ethanol plants in production doubled from five to 10 in 2004 with new facilities operating in West Burlington, Mason City, Hanlontown, Ashton and Iowa Falls.

Ethanol processing in the state increased from 640 million gallons to 865 million gallons in 2004 and the state is expected to become the nation's leading ethanol producer next year.

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Iowa's ethanol industry has increased corn use in the state to 320 million bushels.

Europe's biggest dairy firm will merge

COPENHAGEN, Denmark -- Europe's biggest dairy company, Arla Foods amba, will merge with Netherlands-based Campina, the companies said, in an effort to protect themselves from dropping milk prices.

The new company, to be based in the Danish capital, will be called Campina Arla, have estimated annual revenues of 10 billion euros ($13.4 billion) and employ some 28,000 people.

It will be owned by 21,000 dairy farmers in Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium, and produce an estimated 14 billion liters (3.64 gallons) of milk annually.

Financial details were not released, but based on production levels, Arla would have about 65 percent control of the new company.

The merger, which is subject to regulatory approval by the European Union and the boards of both companies, is expected to be completed by March.

Because both companies are member-owned, the 21,000 dairy farmers that comprise them also must give their approval to the deal, which is expected.

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M.H. Eby building facility near Story City

STORY CITY, Iowa -- M.H. Eby, Inc. has started construction of a new plant to manufacture livestock semi-trailers in central Iowa. Completition of the Story City facility is scheduled for mid-2005.

The new plant will be comprised of 33,000 square feet of integrated manufacturing space and service bays along with an administrative office and space for retail sales of parts and equipment.

The facility will be located on 17 acres along Interstate 35 at Exit 24 in Story City.

Heartland to acquire Ohio Mulch

PLYMOUTH, Minn. -- Heartland Inc. has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Ohio Mulch Inc. for $4 million cash plus stock.

The acquisition is expected to close within 60 days and it will add $23 million in sales with an estimated $1.2 million in gross profit to Heartland's bottom line.

Heartland is a diversified holding company with a range of core businesses from heavy machinery and fabricated steel products to new composting technology.

Ohio Mulch is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio.

It has facilities throughout Cincinnati and northern Kentucky.

Iowan, Minnesotan appointed to board

WASHINGTON -- Howard Gochberg of White Bear Lake, Minn., and Edgar Hicks of West Des Moines, Iowa, have been appointed to USDA's emerging markets committee. The appointments were made by ag secretary Ann Venemann.

Gochberg and Hicks, along with 13 others who were appointed by Veneman, will serve until 2007.

The committee reviews funding proposals under the Emerging Markets Program, which is administered by USDA's Foreign Agriculture Service. The committee also advises USDA on private-sector efforts to enhance food and rural business systems in developing countries.

Iowa is nation's soy candle capital

DES MOINES -- With more than 110 soy candle manufacturers -- more than any other state -- Iowa can boast being the soy candle capital of the United States.

From Arcadia to Woodbine, Iowans are producing candles from soybean wax.

Soy candles produce less soot than candles made from paraffin wax, and they burn longer than paraffin candles.

"When people buy soy candles they're not only supporting local businesses, but they're supporting Iowa's soybean growers as well," said Neal Keppy, director on the Iowa Soybean Promotion Board and grower from Dixon.

Premier AgVentures reaches agreement

HAWARDEN, Iowa -- Premier AgVentures of Hawarden has signed an exclusive territority agreement with AgVenture of Kentland, Ind.. Premier AgVentures president Jim Lynott said their seed company will market AgVenture-brand corn, soybeans and alfalfa in northwest Iowa and southeast South Dakota.

AgVenture is the nation's largest network of independently owned seed companies.

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