Despite modest gains, times still tough for Minn. ethanol biz

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More ethanol producers nationwide made ends meet in 2012, but the industry in Minnesota is sluggish, despite some modest gains.

For example, two of Minnesota's 21 ethanol plants are closed, with one headed for the auction block, according to the Star Tribune.

One of the main culprits in the industry's woes is the high price of corn in 2012.

“The industry has gone through some tough times, so the plants are pinching every penny and looking at every possible way to cut costs,” Paula Emberland, manager of Biofuels Benchmarking, an industry analytics service of the Christianson & Associates accounting firm based in Willmar, tells the Strib.

Three of seven Minnesota-affiliated producers reported modest profits in the latest quarter, up from just two in the previous quarter. One debt-strapped plant, in Heron Lake, Minn., last week asked its mostly local owners to invest more capital. Two other Minnesota-based producers missed payments to lenders, according to the paper.

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