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Tyson, Smithfield, Perdue Explore Biofuel Production

Big business is taking an interest in biofuels, lured in part by government subsidies, the Clarion Ledger reports. Several of the nation’s biggest meatpackers and livestock producers, including Tyson Foods, Smithfield Foods, and other meatpackers and livestock producers are setting up renewable energy units.

Smithfield, the largest U.S. hog producer and pork processor, has invested in facilities to make biodiesel from manure, animal fats and vegetable oils.

Tyson, the largest processor of beef and chicken, thinks its animal fat could be a major feedstock for the booming biodiesel industry. Tyson also is considering making biofuels from manure.

Perdue, a major chicken producer and processor on the East Coast, also has set up a bioenergy division.

These companies know their way around Washington, and they have many friends in both parties and in regions of the country where the biofuels industry has traditionally had little presence: Tyson is based in Arkansas, Smithfield in Virginia and Perdue in Maryland.

That clout will be tested when lawmakers consider extending tax credits for biodiesel and ethanol production and as Congress writes the 2007 farm bill.

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