DEXTER -- A Dexter biodiesel plant will receive half a million dollars in U.S. Department of Agriculture funding.
Greg Branum, state director for the USDA's Rural Development, presented a certificate for $500,000 to Jerry Bagby and Harold Williams, co-owners of Global Fuels LLC.
The funding is being provided through a renewable energy grant to help reimburse the cost of constructing a 3-million gallon biodiesel production plant in rural Dexter.
"Rural Development is pleased to participate with two successful businessmen in a venture that will help produce energy from farm crops," Branum said. "Focusing on the Midwest for our energy needs rather than the Middle East will result in numerous economic benefits, including employment, and will help reduce our reliance on foreign oil. I would also like to extend a sincere appreciation for the support of Rural Development shown by Senators Bond and Talent and U.S. Representative Emerson."
"The dedication of Rep. Jo Ann Emerson and State Director Greg Branum and the work the Rural Development staff has made the award of this Renewable Energy Grant possible," Williams said. "We feel that it would be have been next to impossible to put this facility together without their help and the generous grant that they secured for us. With three major transportation corridors and intense agriculture in the area, the need for diesel engine fuel is very large and continues to grow. We expect the demand to be about equally divided between trucking and agriculture. With more and more private vehicles being fueled by diesel, that is also a growing market. Stoddard County usage is approaching 20 million gallons per year and that demand will continue to grow. With new regulations on sulfur in fuel beginning in 2007, biodiesel is a natural way to enhance lubricity and extend the life and efficiency of engines."
Bagby echoed the sincere appreciation voiced by his partner to Emerson and Branum, noting that assistance to local businesses and projects has grown tremendously in the last few years.
"Agriculture is the largest industry in Southeast Missouri and the production of biofuels is the logical way to add value to our crops," he said. "We can help the nation by reducing dependence on foreign oil and assist the agricultural community by furnishing clean fuel and assist in creating a new market for farm products. Our plant, which we intend to expand, will initially use the production from 60,000 acres, or 3 million bushels, which is 60 percent of all soybean production in Stoddard County."
Bagby and Williams said expansion of their plant will put pressure on the oil market and are already making plans to involve local farmers in an adjacent crushing facility. Exploration is also underway to find alternative crops which will be of greater value to local farmers and Global Fuels.
Global Fuels' plant is the first facility to be built in the 55-acre Stoddard County Ag Complex. The plant is expected to begin functional and operational testing in January with actual production of biodiesel to begin later in the month.
The plant will also produce glycerin, a byproduct which is used in soaps, lotions, candles and a number of other household products.
Bagby and Williams expect to triple the plant's production after two years.