Ethanol Expansion Affecting Iowa in Many Ways

ISU study shows how increased ethanol production is impacting the logistics of Iowa agriculture.

The rapid expansion of Iowa's ethanol industry has changed corn marketing to include more local processing than in the past. However, as more corn is used locally for renewable fuel production, less is available for export, livestock feedstuffs and other processing.

Currently ethanol will consume about 44% of Iowa corn, which will grow to about 75% when all the projects under construction are completed, which makes the ethanol industry the major force in Iowa grain marketing.

"The consequences of increased local processing have affected grain transportation, on-farm grain storage and the structure of local elevators," notes Charles Hurburgh, who heads up the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative for Iowa State University Extension. "This study collected data to indicate the scope of current and future impacts of ethanol production on Iowa agricultural logistics."

Corn processing is changing Iowa

Research is underway at ISU to collect information about corn usage in ethanol production and in livestock feed. This data is being combined with this study of Iowa's ethanol and coproduct production capacities and storage capacities, to create an overall picture of the impact of ethanol processing on Iowa agriculture.

"The purpose of this study was to create an objective data set describing Iowa's ethanol processing plants that could be updated as new plants begin production," according to Connie Hardy, program specialist for ISU Extension's Value Added Agriculture Program. "Processing and storage capacity, corn quality and consumption, and distribution of distillers grain were the main points of interest, but interview data also included plant managers' opinions about future industry needs in market development, transportation and logistics and worker training."

The full study outlines challenges for ethanol plants in terms of storage of grain, the quality of stored grain and availability of corn if all proposed plants in Iowa are constructed. Related issues included securing adequate rail service for regular shipments of both ethanol and distillers grain and the potential for increased environmental regulations. The need for ongoing training for current and future ethanol plant workers was stressed by managers.

For additional information and to read the full study online, visit the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative site at www.extension.iastate.edu/grain or www.iowagrain.org.

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