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MnSP receives nearly $400k in USDA funds

BREWSTER -- Minnesota Soybean Processors of Brewster has been awarded nearly $400,000 in U.S. Department of Agriculture funds to help offset the cost of soybeans used in the production of biodiesel. The funds, authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill, are funded through the USDA's bioenergy program for advanced biofuels.

Taryl Enderson, MnSP general manager, said Monday the company received $398,974 to assist in the working capital at the plant. MnSP, which opened in December 2003 and unveiled its biodiesel refinery in 2005, is a 2,300-member cooperative and employs approximately 80 people. The plant processes roughly 35 million bushes of locally grown soybeans each year.

Enderson said the funds MnSP received were based on 2009 biodiesel production.

"Basically, what we used it for was to assist in the working capital," he said. "It's just to help offset that cost of production. Without the blending credit last year, it really slowed our production."

MnSP received USDA funds in 2009 as well, and Enderson said it has applied for addition money through the program based on 2010 production numbers.

"With the tax cut bill, it's kind of up in the air," he said.

Biodiesel production declined at MnSP in 2010, mostly because the federal government failed to approve a biodiesel tax credit until late in the year. Enderson said production is starting to pick back up at the Brewster facility, but is still "well below what we had in 2008 and 2009."

"We saw a lot of activity last Friday," he said. "The problem is the cost of beans is so high, there's a price differential yet."

Still, MnSP was fortunate in that it remained open -- several other plants were forced to cut jobs and some even closed.

"We've sold enough to cover our costs to keep our plant running," Enderson said.

Six entities in Minnesota were awarded funds through USDA's bioenergy program for advanced biofuels, with MnSP getting the largest share of the more than $500,000. Other recipients included Corn Plus, LLP, FUMPA Biofuels, Chippewa Valley Ethanol Co., LLP, West River Dairy LLP and Riverview LLP.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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