USDA’s new supply and demand report makes a subtle, but significant, change in the way it reports corn use for ethanol, acknowledging for the first time the livestock feed produced as a by-product of ethanol.
Instead of calling the usage category “ethanol for fuel” USDA has changed the wording to “ethanol & byproducts,” with a footnote reading “Corn used to produce ethanol and by-products including distillers’ grains, corn gluten feed, corn gluten meal, and corn oil.”
The Renewable Fuels Association said the change provides a better accounting for the fact that corn processed by ethanol facilities results in the production of both ethanol and animal feed. Historically, USDA has reported only the gross usage of corn for ethanol, implying that the ethanol process uses the entire bushel of corn for fuel production. “This has led to inflated claims that the ethanol industry is using “nearly 40%” of the 2010/11 corn supply, (but) when the production of animal feed co-products is taken into account, only 23% of the 2010/11 U.S. corn supply and 3% of the global grain supply is truly being used for fuel production.”
RFA notes that ethanol co-products have become a substantial component of the global feed market. “In 2010/11, the ethanol industry is expected to produce more than 39 million metric tons of animal feed, enough to produce 50 billion quarter-pound hamburgers—or seven patties for every person on the planet.”