Ethanol plant cuts 40 jobs

FAIRMONT – BioFuel Energy Corp. has followed up the idling of its Fairmont ethanol plant with an announcement of job cuts.

The Buffalo Lake plant, shuttered in September, is laying off 40 full-time workers. BioFuel will continue to employ 15 people locally, primarily at its grain storage facility.

Mark Zoeller, vice president and general counsel for BioFuel, said Wednesday that the company is trying to reduce costs as much as possible prior to this year’s harvest, at which time decisions about re-opening the plant and re-hiring workers can be made.

“The availability and price of grain locally don’t support restarting the plant at this time,” Zoeller said.

When it closed the plant, BioFuel officials cited the high price of corn, the impact of a widespread drought on the ag industry, and a surplus of ethanol as the reasons.

Buffalo Lake began production locally in June 2008.

BioFuel Energy is a publicly traded company with a stated goal to become one of the leading ethanol producers in the United States. Its stock was down 7.67 percent on Wednesday, closing at $5.42. In the past year, the stock price has fluctuated between $2 and $18.

Headquartered in Denver, Colo., BioFuel is now operating just one 110-million gallon per year ethanol production facility in Wood River, Neb. The local plant also has that capacity.