U.S. governors from Washington to New York to Texas are asking Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to change the way USDA reports the use of corn for ethanol production.
In a letter sent to Vilsack this week, the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition urged the change to reflect the fact that corn for ethanol usage produces livestock feed in the form of distillers grains in addition to ethanol. They argue that USDA’s current reporting methods distort the actual picture and provide ammunition for food versus fuel attacks on ethanol.
“In recent days, some pundits have even gone so far as to blame ethanol for the destabilization in Egypt,” wrote Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton in the letter representing the coalition. “Unfortunately, USDA’s monthly corn supply and demand reports provide support for this sensationalized reporting because they identify “corn demand for ethanol” without immediately noting this is gross demand, and not the net use of the starch portion of the corn kernel. This overstates the use of corn for ethanol by as much as a factor of two or more, and fails to inform the public about what is truly happening in the food and fuel supply chain.”
National Corn Growers Association President Bart Schott agrees with the governors’ assessment. “People are exaggerating the amount of corn that goes into ethanol,” Schott said. “While we are proud of the role ethanol plays in creating jobs, improving the environment and growing energy independence, we want to ensure that an accurate representation is made of the important work our growers are doing to meet all needs – for feed and food as well as for fuel.”