Governors Ask for Improved Corn-for-Ethanol Reporting

(posted on 03/16/2011 by Hoosier Ag Today with Gary Truitt, at

Thirty-four of the nation‘s governors would like USDA to alter the way it reports the use of corn for ethanol production. According to a letter to Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack – the monthly corn supply and demand reports downplay the growing importance of distillers grains to meet livestock feed demand and provides an inaccurate rhetorical weapon for ethanol opponents. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton – representing the Governor‘s Biofuels Coalition – write that by identifying corn demand for ethanol without immediately noting it as gross demand and not the net use of the starch portion of the corn kernel, “The report overstates the use of corn for ethanol by as much as a factor of two or more.”

National Corn Growers Association President Bart Schott agrees with the governors – stating that NCGA is proud of the role ethanol plays in creating jobs, improving the environment and growing energy independence and wants to ensure an accurate representation is made of the important work the nation‘s growers are doing to meet all needs – for feed, food and fuel.

According to Growth Energy Public Affairs Director Chris Thorne – more than a third of all corn that goes into ethanol production is returned to the food chain in the form of highly-valued, nutritious livestock feed that replaces a greater volume of field corn. He says the Governor‘s Biofuels Coalition is to be commended for pointing out that the way corn use is counted in the U.S. leaves a great deal on the table – uncounted – in the form of DDGs.

Our Take:
A big thank you to Mark Dayton and the other governors for taking up this issue that has been crying out for a resolution for some time.

It’s part of getting the story out that ethanol plants produce energy and food!

For every 56 pounds of corn in–a bushel as every farmer knows–the ethanol plant produces more than 17 pounds of high quality feed known as Distillers Grains.

By taking the starch out of the corn and making it into a protein and oil-rich feed it becomes, pound for pound a more efficient feed for cattle–like putting a cow on the South Beach diet. By taking starch out of the equation, beef and dairy cattle have far less incidence of acidosis–the technical term for stomach ache/heart burn. Not only does this make cattle more comfortable but it improves their efficiency in putting on weight.

Cattlemen report using rations of 55 percent distillers grains in order to maximize the benefit.

Until the USDA properly accounts for the animal feed produced by ethanol plants, it offers the public a distorted picture of grain disappearance for ethanol. With that corrected, all ethanol supporters can point to the change and make an even more forceful argument to ethanol critics that farm-based energy does not mean food versus fuel. It means Food AND Fuel!


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