Farmers harvested a record corn crop of 15.1 billion bushels and achieved a new record average yield of 174.6 bushels per acre in 2016. The unprecedented corn harvest erased any lingering notions that growers can’t supply enough grain to meet both ethanol demand and growing global demand for food and feed. At the same time that grain consumption by the ethanol industry hit a record level, U.S. retail grocery prices experienced deflation for the first time since 1967.
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. Because growers are getting more output per acre than ever before, less land is needed to satisfy demand for food, feed and fuel. 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. Click HERE for more information on ethanol co-products.
FACT: In 2016, America’s farmers were busy harvesting the third-largest corn crop ever of 15.1 billion bushels. Meanwhile, thanks to new seed technologies and more efficient equipment, corn growers are seeing dramatic gains in yield per acre, averaging 174.6 bushels per acre (bpa). By comparison, in the early 1990s, average yields were in the 100-120 bpa range, and total corn production averaged about 7.5 billion bushels per year.
FACT: Today, approximately 85% of the nation’s dry mill ethanol biorefinieries extract corn distillers oil during the production process, a product that is sold into the feed market or used to produce biodiesel.
FACT: Ethanol production does not reduce the amount of food available for human consumption. When grain stocks and ethanol co-products are properly considered, more grain is available for food and feed today than ever before. In fact, less than 3% of the growing global grain supply is expected to be used for U.S. ethanol production – a six-year low. Click here for more information on the food vs. fuel myth.
Importantly, ethanol is produced from field corn fed to livestock, not sweet corn fed to humans. A modern dry-mill ethanol refinery produces on average 2.85 gallons of ethanol, 16.5 pounds of distillers grains animal feed and 0.65 pounds of corn distillers oil from one bushel of corn. 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. Click here for more information on ethanol feed co-products.
An increasing amount of ethanol is produced from nontraditional feedstocks such as corn kernel fiber and waste products from the beverage, food and forestry industries. Click here for more information on advanced and cellulosic biofuels.