Corn shortage prompts ethanol plant to suspend production

Downtime will be used to work on plant upgrade

An ethanol plant in Macon, Mo., is suspending production February 1 because the extended drought has made it almost impossible to get enough corn to make the fuel, a plant spokesman said January 25.

POET Biorefining plans to keep its Macon facility open and all 44 employees will keep working, spokesman Matt Merritt said. The company plans to move ahead with $14.5 million in plant upgrades, and workers will use the down time to help with some of the upgrades.

“There’s just really no corn in the immediate [Macon] area available,” Merritt told the Associated Press. Shipping in corn from elsewhere wasn’t an option because of the cost. Merritt added that POET will continue to purchase corn for future use when it becomes available. There is no timetable for when production will resume.

POET operates 27 plants in seven states and is based in Sioux Falls, S.D. The Macon plant has been in operation since 2000.