Corn Tops and Blue Sky


  DDGS and Tractor

Feeding the World, Fueling a Nation

Ethanol provides a vital value-added market for corn and other commodities, providing an economic boost to rural America. Demand created by ethanol production increases the price a farmer receives for grain.

FACT: Tremendous increases in the productivity of U.S. farmers have ensured ample supplies of grain are available for domestic and international use as food, feed and fuel.

In 1974 U.S. farmers yielded 71.9 bushels of corn per acre, compared with 165.2 in 2009. One-third of every bushel of grain processed into ethanol is enhanced and returned to the animal feed market in the form of distillers grains, corn gluten feed or corn gluten meal.

FACT: Ethanol production utilized the starch in 3.8 billion bushels of corn in 2009 to produce 30.5 million metric tons of high quality livestock feed, distillers grains and corn gluten feed and meal, and 10.6 billion gallons of ethanol.

To put this volume in context, while ethanol represented 30% of gross corn use, when the contribution of feed co-products is accounted for (1/3 of every bushel of corn used for ethanol is returned to the feed market), the net consumption of corn by U.S. ethanol production is 21%.  The 30.5 million metric tons of feed generated by the industry in 2009 is equivalent to the total amount of grain fed to cattle in the nation's feedlots. 


FACT: By increasing the demand for corn, and thus raising corn prices, ethanol helps to lower federal farm program costs.

In a January 2007 statement, the USDA Chief Economist stated that farm program payments were expected to be reduced by some $6 billion due to the higher value of a bushel of corn.

FACT: A modern dry-mill ethanol refinery produces approximately 2.8 gallons of ethanol and 17 pounds of highly valuable feed co-products called distillers grains from one bushel of corn.

FACT: Ethanol production does not reduce the amount of food available for human consumption.

Ethanol is produced from field corn fed to livestock, not sweet corn fed to humans. Importantly, ethanol production utilizes only the starch portion of the corn kernel, which is abundant and of low value. The remaining vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber are sold as high-value livestock feed. An increasing amount of ethanol is produced from nontraditional feedstocks such as waste products from the beverage, food and forestry industries. In the very near future we will also produce ethanol from agricultural residues such as rice straw, sugar cane bagasse and corn stover, municipal solid waste, and energy crops such as switchgrass.

1 Source:  Renewable Fuels Association