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Ethanol industry pumps $2.5 billion into state's economy

Minnesota's ethanol industry generated more than $2.5 billion in economic activity in 2009 and supported more than 6,800 jobs according to a new report from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA).

Ethanol production in the state increased to 862 million gallons in 2009 from 550 million gallons five years ago. The MDA report estimates the industry is on tap to increase production to 1.1 billion gallons this year with a projected economic impact of $3.1 billion and approximately 1,500 additional jobs.

Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Gene Hugoson says the rebound is good news for the state's 21 ethanol plants, half of which remain farmer-owned cooperatives.

"The ethanol industry's downturn in 2009 was felt on farms and in our rural communities," said Hugoson. "This year is looking much better in terms of increased production, economic impact and employment."

In 2009, Minnesota processed 308 million bushels of corn into ethanol or about 29 percent of the state's total corn crop. This year the industry is projected to process 400 million bushels of corn or about one-third of the state's crop.

Minnesota Corn Growers Association President DeVonna Zeug says the ethanol industry is an important economic driver for the state.

"The ethanol industry is adding value to every bushel of corn we grow right here in our state. When we're able to keep more of the value of what we produce - rather than give it up to another state or another country - it's a huge advantage for Minnesota," said Zeug.

MDA's 2010 Minnesota Ethanol Industry Report can be viewed online at