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Ethanol plant cuts 40 jobs

February 21, 2013

FAIRMONT — BioFuel Energy Corp. has followed up the idling of its Fairmont ethanol plant with an announcement of job cuts....

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(24)

phoenix

Feb-21-13 6:47 AM

Sorry for the workers who lost their jobs. " BioFuel officials cited the high price of corn, the impact of a widespread drought on the ag industry, and a surplus of ethanol as the reasons." There was a surplus of ethanol, yet E85 costs so much, even today, that is has never made sense to pump it because you get such terrible mileage. WOW. Real smart. And the effect it has on the prices for groceries, feed costs for farmers etc...

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Schnellmeyer

Feb-21-13 12:37 PM

You are being had by the biased media in regards to your views. Corn demand and usage does increase the price of your box of corn flakes... by about 4 cents. The additional 75 cents or so it went up is due to higher costs for energy of manufacturing said flakes as well as the higher cost of diesel used to ship said product. But you don't typically hear the rest of the story. If we were not using the 10% addition of ethanol to gasoline, the price of it would be just that much higher. It is true that the fuel mileage of flex fuel cars is less than that of a traditional gas guzzler, but the lower price should reflect the difference. Considering that we live in the agricultural heart of America one would think that the community would be more supportive of our friends and neighbors whose very livelihood depends on a favorable market. Why do you think that a country that is mired in a economic depression that we here in the heartland have been effected less than other regions?

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jmaynard

Feb-21-13 1:16 PM

E-85 gets about 2/3 the fuel mileage of E-10. The price has never been as low as 2/3. Now, it's nearly 90%. It's simply silly to pump it into your tank.

We need to get governments out of distorting markets. Yes, that includes the market for corn. If it hurts farmers, too bad. The damage from the market distortion for us all is far worse than the damage that will result from farmers having to wean themselves off of a subsidy.

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phoenix

Feb-21-13 5:05 PM

Well said jmaynard. The farmers around here are doing quite well. I am sure that has plenty to do with why the midwest is better off than other parts of the country, Schnellmeyer. If you think for a second that I feel guilty that I don't use E85 you are wrong. I am sure very few farmers put it in their vehicles. They are smarter than that because they know it gives you lousy mileage. The middle east countries are laughing at us for using our corn to make fuel. Drill in the USA where ever their is oil, get the shale oil in North Dakota. Get the natural gas that we have.

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Schnellmeyer

Feb-21-13 6:21 PM

That's where you two are wrong. The top 10% of farmers (mega farms, corporate farmers) receive 54% of all subsides, or an average of $45,638 dollars a year between 1995-2011. The bottom 80% of farmers received on average of $2,489 a year in the same time frame. Considering that nearly all of the farmers in our area fall into the bottom 80% I find it hard it hard to believe that they're getting rich on $2,500 dollars a year in subsidies. Keep in mind too these figure include crop insurance payouts which figure to be around 21% of the total payout. The USDA indicates that 30% of farmers receive NO subsidies. I feel that it is unfair to condemn an entire group of hardworking citizens based on your inaccurate information. So if you feel the farmers around here are doing quite well it's probably because they earned it. Furthermore, what hurts farmers WILL hurt this entire community. That's not speculation but the application of simple economics.

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phoenix

Feb-21-13 8:45 PM

The idea that ethanol is good is just dumb. Poor mileage, rediculous price for e85, high prices in stores and for farmers feed, bad for the environment. If we get less imported oil opec just makes us pay more for the amount we get. Its just like raising the minimum wage. When that happens the cost goes to the consumer. Pretty soon a happy meal will be 8 bucks. Again, use our God given resources of oil and natural gas that

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phoenix

Feb-21-13 8:47 PM

...we have here in the USA And put people to work NOW!!!

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phoenix

Feb-21-13 8:51 PM

Oh, and how about building some oil refineries in this country too. Construction jobs, operator jobs, and no excuses for supply disruptions. Then we'll be back to 1.50 gas. How many polititions ever mention that?

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blue5011

Feb-21-13 10:09 PM

"yet E85 costs so much"

E85 is sold at the price the market will bear, just as regular gasoline.

"the prices for groceries"

The high price for food has more to do w/ the Obama admin printing more worthless money. It is called INFLATION.

If you are going to rant and rave, why not put the blame exactly were it should be, on the Washington politicians, who have not had a budget for FOUR years.

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blue5011

Feb-21-13 10:10 PM

"We need to get governments out of distorting markets"

I would be happy if the government got out of ALL markets... but it will never happen.

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blue5011

Feb-21-13 10:12 PM

Speaking of markets, the unintended consequences of Obama's gun grab has made the price of weapons and bullets go up 100%. Who would have thought Obama could sell anything?

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blue5011

Feb-21-13 10:14 PM

"and how about building some oil refineries in this country too"

I am afraid we can't have any mew refiners, Obama and the EPA has seen to that. What will we do when gas hits $10/ gallon?

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Schnellmeyer

Feb-21-13 10:17 PM

Ok Phoenix you changed my mind. Let's do away with ethanol and the 100K+ jobs it directly and indirectly created. Then rather than 9 out of 10 dollars we spend on fuel we send to the Middle East we can just send all 10 dollars to them. They got our back don't they? Plus, since Arab oil is unlimited let's just stop mid-way developing an alternative solution and just rely on them. We buy more oil the prices go down right? Oh, and since corn supply will exceed demand the commodity prices will go back to 2-3 dollars a bushel for corn and we can resume exporting our surplus at 60% of cost. That's what we want right? Let's get real. Perhaps the problem isn't with the fuel but in how we use it. Why is it that they can produce cars in Brazil that can get equal or better fuel mileage on ethanol but here in this country we cannot. Since we are so reliant on combustion engines for so many things maybe we should invest in making them more efficient. Couple jobs could be made there...

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jmaynard

Feb-21-13 11:19 PM

Schnellmeyer, you're dreaming if you think that a car can get the same fuel mileage out of ethanol as gasoline. The simply fact is that ethanol gets 2/3 the mileage of gasoline because it contains 2/3 the energy per unit of volume as gasoline. If there's less energy there, it will take more to get the same amount of work out. Ye cannae change the laws o'physics, captain.

Burning corn for fuel is dumb, dumb, dumb. It's driving up the price of feed for other folks around us...like hog farmers, for example. Remember them? Martin County is the largest pork producing county in Minnesota, and the 8th largest in the US. Think those hog farmers might do better with cheaper feed?

I don't blame people for wanting to stay on the gravy train...but it's bad policy and bad economics, and hurts the country - and yes, the people of Martin County - more than it helps.

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jmaynard

Feb-21-13 11:22 PM

blue5011, I have to wonder: How much E85 is selling when it's at $3.25 a gallon, with E10 selling at $3.79? The latter is by far the better deal unless you're an enviro-wacko. No sane person spends 85% as much to get 67% as much.

(And no, I don't know that that's the current price of E85, but I'll be astonished if it's less than that. I'm not going to go drive in the snow just to make a point on here.)

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phoenix

Feb-22-13 6:49 AM

blue: Obama is the worst president this country has ever seen. But that's a whole topic on its own.

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Schnellmeyer

Feb-22-13 8:52 AM

Since Nascar and IndyCar switched to pure ethanol the studies show that the car do not have to make more pit stops for fuel each race. In fact, the average number of stops for fuel have remained the same. How do they do that? Is it because they modified their engines to a higher compression ratio in order to get better performance out of the fuel they are using. Why can't we do the same for our passenger cars and trucks? Or at the very least the commerce fleets to help keep the price of doing business down to pass on to us consumers.

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jmaynard

Feb-22-13 11:38 AM

Do you know what it takes to change an engine's compression ratio: Two words: "engine rebuild". Race car teams do that after every race anyway. Are you willing to pay for the cost of what it would take to do it on my 2000-model Subaru? Or replacing the entire fuel system to deal with the corrosive fuel?

Further, if you do that, you ensure the car *cannot* run on gasoline, because you raise the octane requirement to the point that you have to use leaded fuel or ethanol. That's great until you go somewhere you can't get ethanol.

All this, and taking food out of the distribution chain to boot. What an astoundingly st00pid idea. We'd do far better to simply use the oil we have right under our noses, but Barack Obama isn't going to let that happen if he can stop it.

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Schnellmeyer

Feb-22-13 1:06 PM

I agree Maynard that it would take a few modifications to equip your Suburu to be a flex fuel vehicle. It would likely be economically inefficient for you to do so. But I am guessing you won't be keeping the Suburu forever and when the time comes be looking for a newer vehicle. What I am saying is the newly produced vehicles should be able to perform better than they currently are on ethanol, or be able to distinguish the blend of gas/ethanol ratio to internally adjust to maximum performance. In regards to the continuation of the food Vs. fuel argument, an 18-ounce box of corn flakes cereal only contains about 12.9 ounces of milled field corn, which costs approximately 9 cents at a price of $7.00 a bushel. Field corn is used primarily as animal feed. I don't eat field corn off the cob, neither do you. 1 bushel of corn (56lbs) produces 2.7 gallons of ethanol and 16 pounds of Distillers dry grain. So nearly a third of corn used for production of ethanol returns as animal feed.

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Schnellmeyer

Feb-22-13 1:15 PM

By the way, I enjoy debating this issue with you all and I do indeed respect your positions. I am just trying to point out that the ethanol industry as a whole is not perfect in its' current form, but throughout the years it has been gradually improving. When ethanol came on the scene in the mid-90's their yield was only 2.25 gallons a bushel and they have since improved that by at least half a gallon. They have also improved their production processes to more efficiently improve their energy to production ratio. As it adds to the bottom line to improve practices, I would expect ethanol producers to continue to find ways to run leaner and make the most out of the least. We are too heavily vested at this point to cut ties now, plus one of the reasons ethanol was introduced was to eliminate the addition of MTBE in fuel which had been proven to cause ill health effects. I will repeat for emphasis that the problem isn't in the fuel but in how we're using it.

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BEvetANDFarmer

Feb-22-13 2:16 PM

There are a couple concerns I have after reading this article.

1. Why aren't people concerned about the loss of 40 jobs. That isn't good for the local economy and the actual people.

2. Ethanol subsidies ran out in 2011. Last week I bought E85 at the Winnebago ethanol plant, and it was $2.97. The same day in Blue Earth, E85 was $3.59. Who do you think is getting the subsidies? Here's a clue, It's big oil.

3. Farm subsidies were due to stop in 2013. But, congress couldn't come to a budget agreement. Farm subsidies also make up less than 2.5% of my total farm's gross revenue.

4. Fuel and food cost the average American about 15% of their total income, while in other countries (ones without ethanol) people are spending over 50% of their income on food and fuel.

Before you disagree with me, please take the time to research some of these points I bring up.

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phoenix

Feb-22-13 7:27 PM

Yes. Point no. 2 bothers me. Funny that valero is a big oil do. With their fingers in ethanol. I don't know how subsidies are involved with them. I do think there is plenty of corruption. Of course Koch refinery blends the ethenol with the gasoline to make e 85 and then tells your gas station what to charge you. Real convenient for the consumer. What a bargain. Wake up people!

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jmaynard

Feb-23-13 9:02 AM

Uhm, Phoenix, if you think that any refiner tells any of its customer gas stations what to charge for gas, you're full of prunes. Gasoline sales is a very competitive business. If your price is above your competition, your customers will leave in a heartbeat. Gas stations charge the minimum they can while still being able to buy the next truckload.

In that kind of environment, refiners can't tell the stations a thing. They can adjust their own prices, but that's all.

Aschnellmeyer, it's not "a few modifications". Compression ratio is a fundamental design property of an engine. Change that, and you have to redo a bunch of the engine itself. It's simply not practical to have an engine with a high enough compression ratio to run efficiently on ethanol and still able to run on gasoline. Those Brazilian cars, and those care cars you cite, run *only* on ethanol.

My next vehicle, and likely the next few after that thanks to Barack Obama's economy, are going to be older used vehi

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phoenix

Feb-24-13 11:46 AM

Google this- children of the corn, the renewable fuels disaster. Very good article.

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