Sparta warring over ethanol plant idea

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

From an Associated Press article in The Capital Times:

SPARTA -- Farmer David Rundahl looks around a field of pine trees and weeds on the edge of this western Wisconsin city and sees the perfect location for a $115 million ethanol plant.

He points to nearby railroad tracks and notes the rumble of cars on Interstate 90 -- an ideal spot for shipping corn and fuel, making some farmers rich and reducing the country's dependence on foreign oil.

But the project proposed by Rundahl and others might come at a high price: Sparta's largest employer, a dairy processor located less than a half-mile down the tracks, is threatening to leave along with its 350 jobs if the plant is built. That would be an economic blow to Sparta, a city of 9,000 in the heart of dairy country.

Century Foods International, a subsidiary of Hormel Foods Corp., says its dairy-based food products would be contaminated by the ethanol plant's pollution. Its worried workers and others opposed to the location are trying to kill the project.