Michigan-based ag company buys ethanol plant

By Kris Bevill | January 04, 2010
Report posted Jan. 5, 2010, at 11:23 a.m. CST

Michigan-based Zeeland Farm Services Inc., an agricultural and transportation company, has acquired its first ethanol facility and plans to begin production in early 2010. The company's newly formed subsidiary, Nebraska Corn Processing LLC, agreed to purchase the 44 MMgy Mid America Agri Products/Horizon LLC (MAAP/H) in Cambridge, Neb., for $30.1 million during a Dec. 17 bankruptcy auction.

The facility, which originally began producing ethanol in 2007, has been idle since January 2009. MAAP/H filed for bankruptcy on June 3 and laid off all employees. Fred Caruso, vice president and chief operating officer of Development Specialists Inc., led the bankruptcy auction as the court-appointed financial advisor for MAAP/H and said the sale to Nebraska Corn Processing is expected to final by early February. Nebraska Corn Processing plans to begin producing ethanol as soon as possible.

"This acquisition will allow Nebraska Corn Processing to gain a foothold in the energy industry and to further invest in agriculture," President Cliff Meeuwsen said. "Our goal is to develop viable business opportunities that will benefit NCP, agriculture and the communities in which we reside."

NCP marketing manager Beth Westemeyer told EPM the company found the size of the Nebraska facility desirable and purchased the plant in order to maximize corn use. The facility will process 16 million bushels of corn annually and produce 400,000 tons of wet distillers grains in addition to ethanol. Zeeland Farm Services will market the ethanol produced at the facility and its ingredients division will market the co-products. The company's grain division will provide commodity price risk management services to NCP, which should aid the company in its hedging abilities. The company plans to bring back the plant's approximately 35 previous employees.

Westemeyer said she is not aware of any plans for the company to acquire additional ethanol facilities in the near future.