With this year's corn crop now emerging in fields throughout the area, Mid-Missouri Energy is ready to celebrate its own "home-grown" accomplishments with a grand opening and open house Friday, June 3, at the producer-owned ethanol plant just outside Malta Bend.
Along with a complimentary lunch and speeches from dignitaries including Gov. Matt Blunt, the day will include guided plant tours from 9 to 10 a.m. and 1 to 5 p.m. Serving of lunch will run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., with the program including speakers beginning at noon.
Blunt, praised in an MME press release as "the first Missouri governor to include full funding for the ethanol incentive fund in his budget," will speak at noon and also present the keys for a 2005 Chevy Tahoe to the Missouri Corn Growers Association, on behalf of the Governor's Ethanol Coalition and General Motors. Other dignitaries expected to be present are U.S. Reps. Ike Skelton of Lexington and Kenny Hulshof of northeast Missouri; state Sen. Bill Stouffer and state Rep. Joe Aull; Fred Ferrell, Missouri Department of Agriculture representative; and Bob Dinneen, Renewable Fuels Association president.
The MME ethanol plant will produce 45 million gallons of ethanol annually from 15 million bushels of corn and is the third ethanol plant in the state, joining facilities in Craig and Macon.
"We are excited to announce the grand opening of Missouri's third ethanol facility," said Ryland Utlaut, MME president and farmer from Alma. "It is our way of thanking the 729 farm families for their willingness to invest in an economic opportunity that creates jobs and strengthens our mid-Missouri economy. Now, all members of our farming community are able to participate in a stronger agriculture environment."
"Missouri has no producing oil wells or oil refineries, but our state is home to over 3 million acres of corn that can be processed and refined into ethanol -- a clean burning, domestic, renewable fuel that can be substituted for gasoline," said Gary Marshall, Missouri Corn Growers Association CEO. "We applaud the dedicated staff and farmer-investors of MME for their vision and hard work in creating an antidote to high gas prices as well as a regional economic booster."
Sen. Jim Talent, who recently added an amendment to the energy bill in Congress increasing the renewable fuels standard to eight billion gallons, said, "Renewable fuels are at the crux of economic growth and jobs in Missouri; at the crux of energy security; at the crux of consumer benefits; at the crux of environmental quality; and at the crux of value-added agriculture for our producers. I congratulate everyone for coming together to build another major ethanol plant in Missouri."
After beginning its equity campaign in February 2003 and breaking ground in October 2004, MME started ethanol production on Feb. 14 of this year and shipped its first load of ethanol just over a week later.
Mid-Missouri Energy employs 32, including nine who relocated to the area of Saline, Lafayette, Carroll counties and purchased homes. MME's annual payroll is $1.6 million. Economic activity and jobs at MME are estimated to create almost $20 million of household income in the area each year.
Other economic benefits of the ethanol plant cited by MME include increasing the price paid per bushel of corn by about 10 cents and making 130,000 tons of dried distillers grain, a high-protein feed additive that is a by-product of the ethanol process, available to area livestock producers.
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