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New study finds no significant fuel pump problems with E20

WILLMAR -- According to research conducted by the Minnesota Center for Automotive Research at Minnesota State University-Mankato, increasing the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline from 10 percent to 20 percent causes no significant change in the performance of automotive fuel systems.

This latest study is the fourth in a series of research projects conducted to determine the effect of E20 on fuel pumps and sending units.

The study looked at eight models of fuel pumps, running three identical versions of each model for 4,000 hours using one of three different fuels -- gasoline, E10 and E20.

The 24 pumps were selected to represent a variety of manufacturers, model years, common vehicles and designs. The study also examined the effect of E20 on nine different makes and models of sending units.

The study found that the pumps showed significantly less wear when tested with E20 than with gasoline. In addition, E20 did not have any greater negative effects than gasoline or E10 on the performance of the fuel pumps and sending units that they tested.

Minnesota State University-Mankato conducted the studies as part of the process to receive a federal waiver from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The waiver is necessary for the state to proceed toward the mandated goal that ethanol comprise 20 percent of nearly all gasoline sold in Minnesota beginning in 2013.

The study was based on nationally recognized standards and protocols to ensure research quality. Support was provided by the Renewable Fuels Association, Minnesota Corn Growers Association and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

USDA amends several loan and LDP provisions

The 2008 farm bill included several changes to the marketing assistance loan and loan deficiency payment provisions. Probably the most notable of those changes was how loan and loan deficiency payment benefits would be treated for payment limitation purposes.

During the 2008 crop year, marketing loan and loan deficiency payment benefits were subject to a payment limit of $75,000 per person. Starting with the 2009 crop year, these benefits will no longer be subject to a payment limit.

As part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's efforts to streamline the loan process, local Farm Service Agency offices will no longer adjust loan rates on warehouse-stored loans for premiums and discounts at time of loan making.

Beginning with the 2009 crop year, loan rates will be adjusted only for premiums and discounts at time of loan settlement if the commodity pledged as loan collateral is forfeited to USDA in lieu of payment. This will be the case for both farm-stored and warehouse-stored loans.

As part of USDA's modernization efforts, changes will also be made in the storage agreement policies that the Commodity Credit Corporation requires of warehouse operators.

In the past, Credit Corporation executed storage agreements with warehouse operators to set forth financial and storage conditions to protect against the massive accumulation of commodities resulting from loan forfeitures.

This practice often resulted in a duplication of efforts that were already required by other federal and state level jurisdictions. Therefore, Credit Corporation will no longer require the execution of storage agreements with facilities that issue warehouse receipts if they are either federally licensed or in compliance with state laws.

Scientists identify gene resistantto soybean rust

Using the latest advances in biotechnology, a team of scientists from USDA's Agricultural Research Service, Iowa State University and Brazil have identified a cluster of soybean genes that provide resistance to the fungus that causes Asian soybean rust.

The discovery could prove vital in defending the $27 billion U.S. soybean crop through either conventional or state-of-the-art breeding techniques.

Asian soybean rust was first detected in the continental United States in 2004. Although fungicide use is effective against the rust, providing farmers with resistant soybean varieties would be more effective and sustainable.

Wes Nelson is executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Kandiyohi County.