Ethanol co-op in Little Falls suspends operations temporarily

By Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer

Influenced in part by the high price of corn and the current low availability of corn locally, the Central Minnesota Ethanol Co-op in Little Falls has temporarily suspended operations.

Ethanol Co-op Chief Financial Officer Larry Novakowske said, “We have temporarily suspended operations due to the crush margin, which is the relationship of the price of corn to the price of ethanol and other by-products we manufacture plus all the other costs of operations.”

“Since January, the crush margin hasn’t been good to the industry overall nationally,” said co-op Board President Steve Anderson. “We’ve been watching the situation closely, with corn really hard to get in this area. We just made the decision going into summer to suspend operations until the new crop comes in.”

Anderson said that locally, the corn crop is projected very good to excellent.

“It’s important to realize that this situation is only temporary; it’s not permanent,” Anderson said.

Co-op shareholder and corn producer Darrell Larsen, who farms between Bowlus and Elmdale, was notified that co-op operations were being suspended.

“This is a serious concern because of the drought across the corn belt,” Larsen said. “The scarcity of corn could affect our infrastructure. I hope we don’t lose our local markets for corn.”

He said corn producers are always looking for better prices, but they are so out of balance now that they are also making it difficult for livestock producers.

“Because production of corn is so low from the drought, prices are going to go up to ration the corn supply,” Larsen said.