Have you read a paper lately? If so you might be under the assumption that we are all going to starve and the world is going to end. That might be a bit sarcastic but there is a lot of doom and gloom in the press lately due to the depressing drought (and rightfully so in some instances). But let’s not get our bushels in a bundle before we reach the finish line.
The drought of 2012 will indeed decrease the amount of crops produced in the United States, which has once again reproduced the old “Food vs. Fuel” debate as the media frets over using corn to produce fuel while failing to mention the impact of the co-product, distiller grains, and in some cases not mentioning the livestock feed at all.
Below are a few key stats to keep in mind when it comes to ethanol…
The ethanol production cycle produces both food and fuel. The starch from the corn is used to make clean-burning ethanol fuel while the protein, fat, fiber and remaining nutrients of the kernel make up the popular and efficient livestock ration, dried distiller grains.
Dried distiller grains amount to about one-third of the original corn used in the ethanol process. So whatever number the media claims that ethanol is consuming, divide it by three and that is how much DDG is being produced from those same bushels. But the news gets even better.
DDG’s are also more efficient than corn, meaning it takes less to meet the same nutritional needs. The product has become far more than a fad in livestock rations as it has become a preferred source of protein by livestock growers around the world and the number two feed source behind corn and ahead of soybean meal in the United States.
In 2011 alone there were 39 million metric tons of DDG’s produced in the United States, which displaced the need for around 1.2 billion bushels of corn for feed. That amount totals as the fourth-largest corn-producing country in the world.
Where are the news stories including those stats?
So, the next time you read an article about ethanol consuming too much corn, remember that the question isn’t Food or Fuel, but instead the answer is Food and Fuel.