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Release No. 0301.05 Contact: USDA Press Office (202) 720-4623 - page 12 / 53

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I asked these four experts including the number two person at the Department of Energy, how much does it cost to produce a gallon of ethanol?  And it got real quiet.  I said, “Well, just make a guess.”  The lowest guess was $2.00 a gallon.  I said, would you be surprised to learn that the actual cost at our new efficient plants in Southern Minnesota is about $.95 a gallon? Now if you take the arithmetic of oil, right now with oil at $60 a barrel you get about 42 gallons of gasoline out of a barrel of oil.  Well you can do your own arithmetic and it works out to over $1.40 just for the oil in each gallon of gasoline.  So the story about ethanol is not only a good story because it's good for our economy and our balance of trade and it's good for the environment-- but the best news is, it's now cheaper than gasoline. And it really is our responsibility to make certain that everybody gets that story.  And while I am concerned about potential imports from other countries, and I think we have to deal with that, I think we have a much bigger problem.  And that is to share with all of our friends, all our neighbors, the rest of the country that ethanol is clean, it is reliable, and it is affordable, and it is now. [Applause.] REP. PETERSON:  Amen.  Mr. Secretary, you and I of course and your boss had a disagreement over CAFTA to say the least.  But it's over with, and we have to move on. What I am concerned about however in CAFTA that I think is an ongoing question-- I've spent a lot of time in South America, spent a lot of time in Central America -- and I am afraid, in fact I would almost bet my shirt on it here, that we're going to have ethanol coming in from Brazil.  They've got five hydrating plants right now in Central America.  The reason they haven't built more was because of the uncertainty of the CBI.  Now that they have CAFTA I think there's going to be a lot of construction going on down there, and we've got to be on top of this so we don't get behind the eight ball.  So I just encourage you to work with us to try to make sure that doesn't happen.  I think that's what Doug Peterson was alluding to that this is one of the problems I think we're still facing with CAFTA.              [Applause.] MODERATOR:  All right.  Let's go to the next question.  Thank you. Good afternoon.  My name is Bob Van Matron.  I'm the administrator at Sleepy Eye Medical Center Hospital and Clinic just down the road in Sleepy Eye. I have more of a testimonial than a question to number five, How can federal rural and farm programs provide effective assistance in rural areas?  I'd just like to share a quick little story. About three years ago Sleepy Eye Medical Center took on a building expansion and renovation project.  In total we added 14,700 square feet of new space.  We built a new physician clinic, new emergency rooms, a new radiology addition with on-site CT scanner technology.  We built a large new laboratory, office space and expanded most of our patient care areas.

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