Grain Bins


What happens to South Dakota’s corn?

Posted on February 15, 2013

With harvest long since completed, you might be wondering what happens to all of the corn that was raised in South Dakota. Where does it go and who uses it?

South Dakota ranks 6th in the nation in corn production, providing food, feed, fuel and fiber to growing populations in the state, nation and all around the world. This year, farmers grew 535.3 million bushels of corn according to USDA/NASS, down significantly due to the drought but still the state’s 7th largest corn crop on record due to the new farming practices and improvements in seed technology. Primarily, the state’s corn will be used for ethanol and distillers grain production, livestock feeding and exports.

  • Ethanol: South Dakota’s 15 ethanol plants will utilize *320 million bushels of corn this year. Those bushels will produce nearly one billion gallons of ethanol and *2.44 million metric tons of distillers grain (aka livestock feed) and 235 pounds of corn oil, which is being extracted at 14 of the state’s ethanol plants and can be used to produce biodiesel.

  • Livestock: Farmers also feed corn to livestock around the state. Around *85 million bushels of the 2012/13 corn crop will be fed to the state’s beef, bison, dairy, hogs, poultry and other livestock. Distillers grains are quickly becoming a popular feed source in South Dakota because of the product’s efficiency and will displace the need for *22 million bushels of corn this year. Feeding corn and DDGs to livestock is a great example of economic development and value-added agriculture in South Dakota.

  • Exports: Around *157 million bushels of the state’s corn crop and *1.87 million metric tons of DDGs will be exported this year. With the drought affecting so much of the Midwest, its uncertain where the crop is headed but most will be moved out on rail headed west towards the Pacific. With last year’s passing of three key Free Trade Agreements along with a growing global middle class, exports will remain strong into the future.

South Dakotans can be proud of the fact that their state’s farmers were able to not only meet our own needs during the worst drought in the last half century, but also continue to play an important role in providing food, feed, clean fuel and fiber to the world’s growing population of seven billion and counting.

*Statistics according to The ProExporter Network 1/11/13

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