WASHINGTON — Tuesday, March 15 is National Agriculture Day. In recognition of this day, the Renewable Fuels Association would like to thank farmers, the backbone of the U.S. ethanol industry. As George Washington said, "Agriculture is the most healthful, most useful and most noble employment of man." Importantly, today ethanol is the single most important, value-added market for farmers and it continues to drive economic opportunities in the nation's heartland. Farmers harvested a corn crop of 13.6 billion bushels in 2015 — the third-largest ever, trailing only 2014's record crop and 2013's robust haul. Meanwhile, thanks to new seed technologies and more efficient equipment, corn growers are seeing dramatic gains in yield per acre, averaging 168.4 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. The U.S. ethanol industry used 5.25 billion bushels of corn, valued at $19 billion, to make the nearly 15 billion gallons of ethanol and 40 million metric tons of animal feed in 2015, valued at more than $31 billion. That's the very definition of value-added agriculture. Meantime, U.S. ethanol producers exported approximately 12.6 million tons of distillers grains in 2015, a new record and 11 percent higher than 2014. When added to the 836 million gallons of ethanol exported to 75 countries across the globe, the U.S. ethanol industry exported the equivalent of 792 million bushels of corn. "Ethanol is contributing to our agricultural industry, helping to ensure we provide feed, fuel and food to the world," said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen. "We are pleased to celebrate National Agriculture Day and recognize ethanol's contributions to the world of agriculture."