WASHINGTON, June 24, 2009 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that USDA Rural Development has approved a $25 million loan to enable a Minnesota biodiesel facility to diversify its operations and significantly expand the production of advanced biofuels.

"The investment announced today helps fulfill the Obama Administration's goal of increasing production of biofuels while securing jobs in the alternative fuels industry," Vilsack said. "This is great news for a community that recently saw this company cease production of its operations due to tough economic conditions."

USDA Rural Development is providing SoyMor Biodiesel a $25 million guaranteed loan to purchase equipment that will enable SoyMor to convert multiple types of feed stocks, including an unrefined corn oil waste product from nearby ethanol facilities, into biodiesel. In its current configuration, the plant only has the ability to process soybean oil.

The loan is the second USDA Rural Development has made under the Section 9003 Biorefinery Assistance Program of the 2008 Farm Bill.

The funding will have a significant impact on the nearby communities by restoring nearly 30 jobs and providing an additional value-added opportunity for the ethanol industry and bolstering the local economy. High feedstock costs forced SoyMor to suspend operations at its Albert Lea, Minn., facility in Spring 2008. The plant opened in 2005 and has an annual capacity of 30 million gallons.

The Biorefinery Assistance Program promotes the development of new and emerging technologies for the production of fuels that are produced from non-corn kernal starch biomass sources. The program provides loan guarantees to develop, construct and retrofit viable commercial-scale biorefineries producing advanced biofuels. The maximum loan guarantee is $250 million per project. The loan is contingent upon SoyMor meeting the conditions of the loan agreement.

USDA Rural Development's mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for rural residents. Rural Development fosters growth in homeownership, finances business development, and supports the creation of critical community and technology infrastructure. Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office.