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Posted on  

June 9, 2003

Farmers offered ethanol stock

Monday, June 09, 2003

By Theresa Katalinas

WEST DEPTFORD TWP. -- Officials contend farmers can reap what they sow in potential profits by owning a piece of the proposed $60 million ethanol plant.

Henry Capro of Garden State Ethanol said the company is awaiting approval from the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission to allow for the sale of stocks.

Capro said the review and approval process is expected to continue over the next few months, with the first company stakes being made available in about four months.

"Our main focus is on the farmers," Capro said. "We will make a special effort to get this message out to the farming community."

Similar to stock market situations, Capro said a certain degree of risk will be associated with the ethanol plant and said money could be made or lost. Capro said funds collected from investments will help finance the construction and startup of the plant.

Timothy Gardner, a financial adviser based in Turnersville, said all businesses begin as private entities. He said Garden State Ethanol's plan to use stock profits to build seems "normal."

Gardner said companies begin by mapping out a plan and securing funding through private investors.

"If someone is a typical venture capitalist ... sometimes it's not necessary to have knowledge of the ethanol business," Gardner said. "Generally speaking, people who invest at that level ... are generally very, very wealthy people. It's not going to be the average guy."

According to its Web site, the Securities and Exchange Commission ensures that institutions and private individuals have access to the same basic facts concerning investments before buying.

Proponents for Garden State Ethanol -- the grass-roots group of farmers aimed at establishing a gasoline-producing plant on the 292.3-acre former Huntsman industrial site on Mantua Grove Road in West Deptford Township -- contend that the plant will provide another alternative for corn grown in New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland markets.

However, Richard Nieuwenhuis, New Jersey Farm Bureau president, said more choices may or may not translate to increased profits.

"Corn prices are kind of like an item that's set on the Chicago mercantile board," Nieuwenhuis said. "Our farmers are not going to be able to say, 'We have to get $3 more for a bushel of corn.' "

Instead, Nieuwenhuis said the major financial benefit will come from carbon dioxide and livestock feed, which will be made in ethanol production.

Based on plant operations in the Midwest, Capro said that the secondary products will prove beneficial. Carbon dioxide can be used in carbonated beverages and in dry ice production.

While corn prices fluctuate, Capro said the average is between $2.70 and $2.75 per bushel. He agreed that the ethanol plant may not force profit boosts, but said area farmers will have an additional avenue to market their product.

"If the farmer only has one place to go for corn ... they have a choice, take it or leave it," Capro said. "If they have three places to go ... it will be a broader market."



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