Ottes looking forward to new ethanol plant

By Janet Kubat Willette

LEWISTON, Minn. — Arland Otte says his neighbors keep telling him they hope Minn-Ergy starts construction soon because they are eager to sell their corn to the plant.

Otte and his wife, Myrna, who farm near St. Charles, are on a list of 38 initial investors in the plant proposed for Eyota, according to a November 2007 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"The presence of an ethanol plant in your neighborhood usually ends up improving the basis," Otte said. "The basis can make quite a difference … the basis on soybeans right now is $1.25 and the basis on corn right now is up around 72-73 cents."


Not only will MinnErgy increase the price received by farmers, but it will also provide jobs and give the river terminal at Winona some competition, said Roger Baer of Lewiston. He and his wife, Rita, are also initial investors in MinnErgy.

Their farm is 22 miles from Winona and 28 miles from Eyota. It would cost them a little more in trucking to go to Eyota, but Roger figures that cost will be offset by a higher price for his corn.

An ethanol plant gives him an opportunity to add value to his corn crop in the form of potential dividends from the ethanol plant in much the same way that he used to add value to his crop by feeding livestock.

"We’re to an age where we don’t want to wrestle livestock anymore," Rita Baer said.

The couple passed retirement age a few years back, but continue to raise corn and soybeans. They sell the corn they used to feed to livestock for ethanol production.

Ethanol is a growth industry, Roger said.

"We see opportunity," he said. "There’s opportunity for the farmers in the area and it’s also an asset for the communities they’re building in."

Ethanol plants are good for those who don’t farm, as well as those who do, said Michael Daley, an investor and Lewiston dairy farmer. Ethanol plants bring money into an area and add value to corn.


Daley invested even though he probably won’t be selling any corn to the plant because the corn he raises is fed to his dairy cattle.

"I thought it was good for the community," he said, adding an ethanol plant isn’t only a market for corn, but also a source of livestock feed in the form of distillers grain, a co-product of ethanol production.

Corn ethanol has gotten a bad rap from some who use obsolete data to criticize the industry, Otte said. One of the biggest concerns people seem to have right now is the amount of water the proposed plant would use, he said.

It takes three to five gallons of water to produce one gallon of ethanol, Otte said, but it takes 2.5 to 8 gallons of water to process one gallon of refined crude oil.

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