"It is great news for Nebraska corn farmers and shows the potential for a huge new market for our corn," according to Kevin Swanson, Overton, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board, commenting on the groundbreaking, at Blair, on a $300 million corn polymers plant.

"Hopefully, this is just the start of things to come," he says.

The Cargill Dow Polymers plant, expected to be on line by late 2001, will use corn to make polylactic acid (PLA), an environmentally-friendly product that can be used to make plastics, textiles and other products.

The new facility will be located near Cargill's existing corn milling plant and will use 40,000 bushels of corn per day for an annual use of 14 million bushels.

Swanson says Nebraska corn farmers played a role in the development of PLA. Using money from the one-quarter cent per bushel checkoff on corn in Nebraska, the Nebraska Corn Board has funded more the $200,000 in PLA applications research, at the University of Nebraska and elsewhere, since 1994. The research projects ranged from commercialization of PLA to textile and horticultural uses of PLA.

Further promotion and market development investments were made in PLA through the Nebraska Corn Board providing major funding to the National Corn Growers Association and the U.S. Grains Council.

"We are excited that the Nebraska corn checkoff has done exactly what it was created to do: fund research to create new products and new markets for our corn," Swanson says.

The equivalent of nearly 20% of Nebraska's corn crop is processed into starch, sweeteners, ethanol and other products. That compares to less than 1% 15 years ago.

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