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What the temporary POET plant closure means for Macon

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One of the largest economic engines in Macon, Mo. has temporarily halted production. High corn prices forced the Macon POET Biorefining’s ethanol plant to temporarily close.

The plant stopped production for the first time since it opened, 13 years ago, at the beginning of the month. While the plant is not producing ethanol, the plant will undergo a 13 million dollar renovation.

The plant’s general manager Steve Burnett says there will not be a shortage of ethanol. He did say local farmers will see the effects of the plant closing.

“One thing they’ll notice is the local farmers will not be able to buy any distillers grain feed products from us until we start back up. But we have another plant in Laddonia and several in Iowa that will cover any needs.”

That means farmers who normally buy grain feed for their livestock will have to drive 77 miles each way to buy feed from another POET plant.

President Obama visited the plant back in 2010 and said, “[Biofuel is] an investment that we expect will create or save up to 700,000 jobs across America.” Burnett says he still believes this is true even with the closed plant and higher corn prices.

Burnett said last year’s drought affected more than just agriculture as a whole.

“As you know, agriculture is the biggest industry in Missouri. It always has been and probably always will be. Whether you work directly in agriculture or not, it affects you. If you eat, it affects you.”

He said while production is down they are still actively buying corn. Burnett expects the plant to resume production in the spring if all goes well.

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