Cargill officials report that the company will quadruple the capacity of its corn ethanol plant in Eddyville, Iowa.

The project is set to begin in the latter part of 2009. With the expansion, the plant would increase its output from 35 million gallons annually to 145 million gallons.

Bill Brady, spokesman for Cargill, said t
Cargill began producing corn ethanol at Eddyville in the early 1990s, and has build a similar plant in Blair, Neb.

The United States' renewable fuels standard is to produce 7.5 billion gallons a year by 2012. Pending legislation could push that to 36 billion by 2022, points out

A Cargill spokesperson noted that with ethanol's tremendous growth in recent years, and with a "large expansion we can achieve economies of scale at Eddyville."

With this and other projects, Cargill's total investment in biofuels would top $1 billion. The company's Blair, Neb., plant is in the expansion process and will come on line soon.

With it's own production and other agreements with independent ethanol producers, Cargill could supply more than 1 billion gallons of the fuel annually.

Cargill, parent of Wichita-based Cargill Meat Solutions, has worked to strike a balance between producing biofuels and growing livestock for food, notes the spokesperson.

"We are a food company with a biofuels component — not the other way around," he says. "Non-food uses have always been part of Cargill's crop mix, and we believe that biofuels have a meaningful role to play. It helps us build our portfolio as well as leverage our expertise. We're in the business of adding value to what farmers grow."

Source: Cargill,