Ethanol Plants Could Get USDA Loans

World Food Prize Ed SchaferEthanol plants that have been hurt by dramatic fluctuations in commodity prices this year could be eligible for assistance from the US Department of Agriculture.

Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer told reporters after an address to the World Food Prize breakfast in Des Moines Friday that “some plants are under pressure because they’ve been speculating on corn.”

Schafer said there are USDA programs that could, for example, help the companies refinance and reduce their interest rates on operating expenses such as corn purchases. USDA’s Rural Development Program can lend up to $25 million to refinance or loan guarantees. “We have several ways we can help with dollars in rural areas,” Schafer said.

Some ethanol companies, most notably VeraSun, speculated on corn prices during the summer and locked in prices when corn was at $7 per bushel and now cash prices are about $3.50 per bushel, causing some significant losses. “There is going to have to be some credit applied to companies to buy some lower-priced corn to blend with their higher-priced corn obligations,” Schafer said.

If USDA allows the ethanol plants to participate in the loan programs, Schafer said there would be “no restrictions or litmus tests” on the size or ownership for companies to qualify.

5 thoughts on “Ethanol Plants Could Get USDA Loans

  1. This is an excellent idea to help our Ethanol producers, it will pay great dividends in the long run. Fuel competition works for the country and consumer, win-win.

  2. I speculated no corn futures in my trading account. Can I please get a check from the government to recoup my losses? This would be a win-win situation.

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  5. This is corporate welfare at its worst. But then again, there would be no ethanol if it wasn’t for corporate welfare, and it will never be able to be produced without corporate welfare, so why not?