Ethanol Co-Products Dramatically Extend Corn Supplies

New analysis shows there are enough distillers grains to feed all the cattle in the four largest feeding states.

A new study has found that the U.S. ethanol industry produces enough ethanol feed co-products to feed all the cattle raised in Texas, Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado, the nation's top four livestock feeding states. The analysis, prepared by the Renewable Fuels Association in Washington, D.C., examined the role ethanol production plays in supplying feed to livestock producers worldwide, thereby extending corn supplies for domestic and export markets.

"Ethanol plants are a major source of livestock feed – enough to feed all the cattle in the four largest livestock states," says Lucy Norton, managing director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. "Too often people overlook the fact that one-third of every bushel of corn processed into ethanol results in a high-protein livestock feed. This co-product replaces corn in livestock rations and increases the amount of bushels available for other uses, such as food and exports."

DDG's work in least-cost livestock rations

Distillers grains, the co-product of dry mill ethanol production, are fed to beef cattle, dairy cows, hogs and poultry. These co-products are typically priced at a discount to the feed ingredients they replace so livestock and poultry feeders can take advantage of the value of these products in least-cost ration formulations.

Iowa's ethanol industry produced approximately 6.6 million tons of distillers grains in 2007. This represents 29% of total U.S. distillers grains production.

"The rapid growth in the ethanol industry has put more protein on the market in the form of co-products," says Norton. Distillers grains exports have been doubling in recent years. In the 2007-2008 marketing year, distillers grains exports were equal to about 100 million bushels of corn and this amount is expected to grow to approximately 160 million bushels (equivalent) in 2008-2009.

Ethanol supplying food, feed for the world

When put into perspective, the "net" amount of corn used for ethanol production represents two-thirds of what can be produced from a bushel of corn. The remaining one-third leaves the facility in the form of distillers grains, which goes to feed livestock that provide the world's population with a good source of protein. "This is just another example of how ethanol is supplying both food and feed for the world," says Norton.

Iowa is the leader in renewable fuels production. Iowa has 35 ethanol refineries with the capacity to produce 2.7 billion gallons annually. There are nine ethanol refineries under construction or expansion that will add 990 million gallons of annual capacity. In addition, Iowa has 14 biodiesel refineries with a combined annual capacity of over 315 million gallons in operation. Many additional renewable fuels projects are under development.

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association was formed in 2002 to represent the state's ethanol and biodiesel producers. The trade group fosters the development and growth of the renewable fuels industry in Iowa through education, promotion, legislation and infrastructure development.

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