Food AND Fuel Facts

When corn is sent to an ethanol plant for processing, not only does the plant produce a cleaner-burning, high octane fuel in the form of ethanol, it also generates many co-products, including a highly nutritious, high-protein animal feed called distillers grains.  Distillers grains is a very effective feed that can be used in the rations of livestock from cattle to hogs to chickens.

Distillers Grains

Large pile of distillers grains at Homeland Energy Solutions, an ethanol plant in Lawler, Iowa.

  • U.S. farmers continue to produce more than enough corn to meet every demand for feed, food, exports, industrial uses, AND fuel. Even with increasing levels of renewable fuels production, there is simply no shortage of corn to meet the needs of all end-users.  In fact, recent estimates state that corn carryout could potentially reach 2 billion bushels for the 2014-15 marketing year–that’s potentially 2 billion bushels of corn without a home! And remember, ethanol is made from field corn (used primarily for animal feed), not sweet corn (used for human consumption).

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  • Renewable fuels protect the family budget by lowering gasoline prices.  By adding ethanol to the U.S. fuel supply,  consumers save between $0.50 and $1.50 per gallon at the pump.

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  • There is no correlation between retail food prices and either corn prices or the use of corn for renewable fuels.  Conversely, there is a nearly perfect correlation between food prices and oil prices.

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Food Dollar

  • The close correlation between food prices and oil prices makes sense when you consider that approximately 83 cents of every dollar spent on food goes to cover processing, packaging, distribution, transportation and marketing costs—all of which are highly energy intensive. The farm share of every food dollar is only 17 cents.

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  • The U.S. ethanol industry is one of the largest feed processing segments in the world, producing more feed annually than “the total amount of grain consumed by all the beef cattle in the nation’s feedlots.” The amount of feed produced each year at U.S. ethanol plants “would rank as the world’s fourth-largest corn crop, trailing only the United States, China and Brazil,” and “would be enough to produce nearly 50 billion hamburger patties—or seven patties for every person on the planet.”

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  • The U.S biodiesel industry also has a significant positive impact on food security.  “Biodiesel production helps make the food and agricultural sectors more profitable, incentivizes the production of protein, and generally helps keep grocery items like meat from increasing in price more than they already would due to inflation and petroleum energy costs.”

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