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COL Hanman retiring from DFA leadership

KANSAS CITY -- Gary Hanman, chief executive officer of Dairy Farmers of America, announced that he will retire effective Dec. 31.

Hanman, 71, has been DFA CEO since its creation in 1998. From 1975-1997, Hanman was CEO of Mid-America Dairymen of Springfield, Mo. Before that, he was the first CEO of the Square Deal Milk Producers Association of Highland, Ill.

Hanman has agreed to continue with DFA as a consultant to help in the management transition and in defining future cooperative marketing opportunities.

Grant will help Glenville-based SoyMor

GLENVILLE, Minn. -- A $350,000 state grant from the Minnesota Investment Fund has been awarded to Freeborn County to help SoyMor Biodiesel, LLC, build a new $31.6 million plant near Glenville.

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The project is expected to create 37 jobs.

Under the terms of the MIF grant, Freeborn County will use the money to create a revolving loan fund from which it will offer a low-interest loan to SoyMor. The company also is contributing funds through equity and other sources.

When complete, the SoyMor facility will have a production capacity of 24 million gallons of biodiesel a year. The company was formed to allow soybean producers in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa the opportunity to own and operate a biodiesel plant.

The Minnesota Investment Fund, administered by DEED, promotes job growth by providing low-interest loans to businesses to pay for land, buildings, infrastructure improvement, equipment or training.

Cargill will build new ethanol facility

BLAIR, Neb. -- Cargill will build a new 110-million gallon-per-year ethanol plant in Blair.

The new plant would more than double the Blair facility's ethanol capacity from the current 85 million gallons annually.

The expansion would increase Cargill's total annual U.S. production capacity to 230 million gallons, making it the nation's second-largest ethanol producer. Construction is expected to start in spring 2006. Cargill expects to hire 30 to 50 additional full-time employees in connection with the facility's operation.

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Cuba nears corn-purchasing milestone

JOHNSTON, Iowa -- Cuba is nearing a new corn purchasing milestone, according to the Iowa Corn Promotion Board.

Corn board staff members Don Mason and Gary Woodley says FCStone, a Des Moines-based commodity risk management and trading company, has sold nearly $100 million worth of commodities to Cuba since trade rules were eased in 2000.

Cuba has purchased more than 550 million bushels of U.S. corn since 2001 and was the 15th largest U.S. export customer in the 2004 market. The ICPB's Cuba initiative began in 1998, when the checkoff participated in a humanitarian mission to donate livestock feed to Cuba.

Iowa farmers net $1.3 billion in subsidies

DES MOINES -- Iowa farmers got nearly $1.3 billion in federal subsidies last year, according to a national research and advocacy organization.

That was more than any other state -- or about 10 percent of the $12.5 billion paid to farmers nationwide, according to records compiled by the Environmental Working Group. Illinois, Nebraska and Minnesota were at the top of the list with Iowa. The number was up from 2003, when Iowa farmers got about $1 billion in subsidies, the group said.

Some Iowa operations got more than $500,000 in subsidies last year. Those included three operations led by T-4 Land &; Cattle of Charter Oak. Four others received more than $400,000.

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Montana farmers upset by railroad rates

BIG SANDY, Mont. -- Grain growers angry about BNSF's freight service and rates shared their gripes with a federal official, who responded that absent a formal complaint, there is little his office can do.

Montana Senate President Jon Tester, a Big Sandy Democrat and farmer running for the U.S. Senate, said people in Montana agriculture "cannot wait a long time. If we file a case and it drags on ... we don't have the pockets that the railroad has" to sustain the case.

Buttrey said there are guidelines under which a mediator can hear small rate cases.

BNSF spokesman Pat Keim said rail rates respond to market conditions, and since 1981, rail prices have lagged compared to other farm expenses.

A consultant, Terry Whiteside, said grain growers in Montana and North Dakota encounter the nation's highest freight rates because the growers are served by only one railroad.

Midwest dairy farmers donate cheese

ST. PAUL -- Midwest dairy farmers and processors are donating $50,000 worth of cheese to America's Second Harvest -- the Nation's Food Bank Network.

"Midwest Dairy Association is pleased to be part of this relief effort," says Mel Kunstleben, a Paynesville dairy farmer and chairman of the Midwest Dairy Association board of directors.

The donated cheese is earmarked for hurricane victims.

The donation was sourced through three co-ops: Associated Milk Producers Inc., Land O'Lakes and Swiss Valley Farms, and the Midwest Dairy Association partnered with St Paul-based Second Harvest Heartland to coordinate the 16,281-pound cheese donation. America's Second Harvest will distribute the cheese through the Southeast Texas Food Bank in Beaumont, Texas.

Midwest Dairy also worked with Associated Milk Producers Inc. to coordinate a donation of an additional 75,000 pounds of cheese for the national dairy relief effort.

Trade deficit soared to record in September

WASHINGTON -- The trade deficit soared to a record in September as the Gulf Coast hurricanes helped push America's foreign oil bill to an all-time high. The politically sensitive deficit with China also set a record.

The Commerce Department reported Thursday that the deficit jumped to $66.1 billion in September, 11.2 percent higher than the $59.3 billion imbalance recorded in August. It was a far bigger increase than analysts had been expecting and reflected in part a record $23.8 billion in oil purchases as the price skyrocketed, reflecting widespread shutdowns of production facilities following hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

So far this year, the deficit is running at an annual rate of $706.4 billion. This puts the country on track to far surpass the old deficit record of $617.6 billion set last year and gives critics ammunition to argue that President Bush's trade policies are not working.

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