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EMERY P. DALESIO
AP Business Writer

RALEIGH, NC (AP) — A company that wants to turn grass grown on North Carolina hog farms into motor fuel is getting the federal backing it wants to build an ethanol plant.

The US Agriculture Department said Wednesday it is giving Wilmington-based Chemtex International Inc. a loan guarantee worth nearly $100 million.

Chemtex plans to build an ethanol plant in Sampson County that will convert high-energy grass varieties into ethanol. The company is signing up hog farms to grow the grasses on spray fields, turning that land into a new cash crop for farmers.

The Agriculture Department says the project will help reduce foreign oil dependence, increase farm income, and create rural jobs. The Chemtex plant is expected to employ about 65 people. Average salaries are projected to be about $50,000 annually.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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