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Posted on  

August 8, 2000

Walhalla Plant Can Reopen If Stateís Leaders Show Commitment to Ethanol

In an effort to bolster support for the reopening of an ADM plant in Walhalla, North Dakota, Heidi Heitkamp, Candidate for North Dakota Governor, issued the following statement:

For decades, North Dakota has worked hard to develop value-added industries to our stateís agricultural products, in particular. It makes sense. We long have produced some of the finest commodities in the world, but see the processing of them sent away to the Twin Cities and beyond.

Thatís why it is such a waste that the Walhalla ethanol plant, owned and operated by Archer-Daniels-Midland, sits idle because the Republican-controlled legislature eliminated its subsidies in 1999. For more than a year now, 40 to 50 of some of the best-paying jobs in that region of the state have been lost. The plant processed 30,000 bushels of grain a day---as much as 900,000 bushels a month. It made Walhalla a vibrant center of agribusiness activityódrawing as many as 75 grain trucks a day.

The Walhalla plant is a microcosm of what is good about value-added agribusinesses. Not only did the plant require a continual stream of grainógiving some stability to the marketóbut also it spawned a new business from its byproducts. Harvest Fuels, based in Walhalla and employing about a half a dozen people, makes protein blocks for cattle from byproducts of the ethanol. Right now the company has to go to out-of-state ethanol plants to get its raw materials, while a huge ethanol plant sits idle in the same town. This doesnít make sense. We have to get the Walhalla plant going again.

Itís not like North Dakota spends a lot on ethanol subsidies. Minnesota, for example, gives $3 million per year in subsidies to each of its plants; North Dakota currently provides $750,000 in annual subsidies to the Grafton ethanol plant, and has set aside another $300,000 for a plant in Grand Forks that has yet to get started.

Republicans complain that ADM is too big of a conglomerate to deserve any money for running the Walhalla plant. I disagree. Itís providing high-quality jobs in a part of the state that needs it. Plenty of spin-off commerce is generated from the plant. Itís an important buyer for the abundant grain supply our state produces.

That Walhalla plant can reopen and all it takes is a show of support from our stateís leaders and their commitment to restoring the subsidies in the 2001 Legislature. I am calling for the legislative leaders of both political parties to send a letter to ADM confirming their intent to support the reinstatement of the ethanol subsidy. I think this show of support will convince ADM to open the plant as soon as possibleóeven before the 2001 session begins. As Governor, I will be committed to value-added agriculture and industries such as ethanol. The production of ethanol is a business that makes sense for our economy and our environment.

Letís show ADM we are serious about value-added agriculture and we support the production of ethanol in North Dakota. A united voice will be heard in the boardrooms of ADM. Letís get serious about ethanol and letís get that Walhalla plant back in production.



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