Thousands of Iowa's Corn Farmers See the Future in Fuel
"Iowa, the top corn-producing state, is the nation's ethanol leader, generating 25 percent of U.S. ethanol in towns such as Coon Rapids and Steamboat Rock. In addition to 22 ethanol refineries in operation, the state has seven under construction and at least 20 are being planned.
The boom here has largely been a grass-roots phenomenon, fueled by clusters of growers, bankers and small-town professionals. Aspiring biofuel plant owners have been barnstorming the state, delivering investment pitches in firehouses, schools and community centers.
Six thousand farmers have bought in.
'There's quite a bit of exuberance for the ethanol plants. They're paying real good dividends,' said Rockwell City farmer Keith Sexton, president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association and an investor in four biofuel refineries. 'It's coming on board almost faster than a person can keep up, unless that's your day job."