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USDA: No Special Bailout for Ethanol Producers

29 October 2008

US - Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer assured meat, dairy and poultry groups on Monday that a loan guarantee program for rural businesses was not being used as a special bailout for struggling ethanol makers.

According to Usagnet, Schafer met industry representatives in response to a letter last week in which the groups said it would be unfair to provide federal loan guarantees to ethanol makers because they agreed to pay high prices for corn, the feedstock used by ethanol plants, before recent market declines.

The letter was signed by the American Meat Institute, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Chicken Council and five others.

"We assured them that this was a long-standing program they could use to help finance rural America. Some of those may be ethanol facilities," Schafer told reporters.

USDA has said any rural business, including ethanol plants, are eligible to receive up to $25 million in loan guarantees as long as they meet certain financial requirements.

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