RFA Submits Comments on Animal Feed Rule

RFANewlogoThe Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) submitted comments to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday on the supplemental rulemaking proposal outlining best practices for the regulation of animal food under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The act outlines regulations for animal feed, which includes the ethanol co-product dried distillers grain.

RFA submitted comments earlier this year following the initial proposed rule noting that animal feed would be unnecessarily regulated in a similar fashion to human food. RFA praised the FDA for addressing this concern in its updated version, noting that the “revised CGMPs (current good manufacturing processes) in the supplemental proposed rule appear more applicable to the animal feed industry and appear to provide more flexibility for the wide variety of the animal feed facility processes covered.”

However, RFA raised concerns with additions to the rule that would implement “…product and environmental testing programs, supplier approval programs, and verification programs that were not in the initial proposed rule language.” The comments stress that an individual plant “…should be provided the flexibility to determine its own needs and compliance strategy.” RFA also noted that “If applied in a prescriptive and indiscriminate way, these programs can add unnecessary cost burdens and divert resources away from the effective practices that ethanol producers currently use to assure safe, high quality co-products.”

Read RFA comments here.

Evolving Distillers Grains: Take the Survey

Iowa State University is looking at how the use of distillers grains have changed in the United States over the past several years. Interested growers are invited to participate in a survey currently being conducted by Iowa State University Assistant Professor Dr. Kurt Rosentrater. The survey findings will create a better overall picture of the roll distillers grains play in the livestock industry today and provide important insight into possible points of improvement in the future.

The survey is funded, ddgsin part, by the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) Ethanol Committee as part of the team’s efforts to increase understanding of how this ethanol co-product benefits farmers, ranchers and ethanol producers alike.

“I encourage anyone who might be able to provide information on how they use distillers grains on their operation to take a few minutes and complete this survey,” said NCGA Ethanol Committee Chair Jeff Sandborn, a Michigan farmer. “As the use of distillers grains continues to grow and evolve, data gained through this survey will enable producers to improve their offerings and thus will benefit the very livestock producers that we would like to participate. Using corn to produce fuel and feed is already a win-win-win situation. Now, we want to make it that much better.”

To take the survey, click here.

Ag Subcommittee Hears Pros and Cons of RFS

glauber1The food versus fuel debate arose once again in front of Congress. At last week’s U.S. House Ag Subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., opponents and proponents of the Renewable Fuels Standard presented their arguments on the RFS and its impact on the livestock industry.

One of the biggest opponents of the RFS is the poultry industry. Their members argued that ethanol has forced up feed prices that keeps them from expanding operations and fulfilling consumers’ needs to have a cheaper alternative to beef and pork, calling the RFS “broken beyond repair.” But the chief economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dr. Joseph Glauber, said while ethanol initially did have an impact much bigger factors forced up the price of feed.

“Certainly, the ramp up [in ethanol production] we saw from 2005 to 2010 had a big impact on corn prices, but we also saw a big increase in energy prices, so it’s not the only thing going on,” he told the committee.

In fact, during that same ramp-up period, petroleum prices shot up to record levels, and RFS proponent, Roger Johnson, President of the National Farmers Union, said the agriculture industry should be united for renewable fuels.

“The World Bank found that crude oil is the number one determinant of global food prices. We should reduce our dependance on oil consumption in order to be more food secure, and biofuel production is an excellent way to do that,” adding that pitting the biofuels industry against the livestock growers is counter-productive.

The bottom line, according to Glauber, is that biofuels are important, and they’re here to stay.

“Corn-based ethanol is a vibrant industry and is competitively priced against gasoline, and producers will continue to produce ethanol from corn as long as profit margins are there. And profit margins have been there.”

Global Farmers Learn Value of Ethanol

corn-couserEach year during World Food Prize week, the Truth About Trade and Technology Global Farmer Roundtable brings farmers from all over the world to visit Couser Cattle Company in Nevada, Iowa.

Owner Bill Couser not only produces cattle, he also grows plenty of corn on his operation and is a big proponent of ethanol as a means of getting the most out of every kernel. “It’s no different than a barrel of crude. We don’t just get gasoline from a barrel of crude. We take it apart and get many different things,” he said. “When we look at corn, we can feed it, we can take it to ethanol plants, we can sell it domestically, we can sell it abroad.”

As a founder of Lincolnway Ethanol plant, Couser is really excited about the cellulosic project with DuPont using corn residue. “We’ve got the residue there and if we manage it correctly, we have a new cash crop,” he said. Interview with Bill Couser

Couser, who is also a former president of Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, showed a powerpoint presentation adding up the multiplier effect of a single acre of corn going to an ethanol plant. When he figured that final amount corn was $7 a bushel and it added up to over $12,000 per acre. But even at $3, it’s still nearly $8,000. Watch the video to see how he determines that.

2013 TATT Global Farmer Roundtable photos

Impact of RFS on Agriculture

Increased ethanol production has been good for corn growers, bad for poultry producers, but has overall helped increase farm income to record levels according to some testimony given in a House hearing on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) this week.

rfs-hearing-pam“The Renewable Fuel Standard is doing exactly what it was intended to do,” said National Corn Growers Association President Pam Johnson of Iowa. “It has positively impacted the agriculture sector by creating jobs and promoting rural development, reducing greenhouse gases and allowing our nation to grow our energy at home.” Pam Johnson Testimony

rfs-chicken National Chicken Council (NCC) Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Bill Roenigk said at the hearing that poultry producers have struggled with rising feed costs. “Since the RFS was implemented in October 2006, the feed costs for chicken, turkey and eggs have gone up $50 billion,” he said. “More troubling than the higher costs is the volatility and trying to outguess the market.” Bill Roenigk Testimony

rfs-hearing-hurtPurdue University agricultural economist Chris Hurt told the hearing that farm income and land values have risen dramatically since implementation of the RFS. “Higher farm incomes on crop farms benefited rural communities as that higher income spread through local purchases of farm and consumer goods and services,” Hurt said. “In addition, expansion of the ethanol industry in rural communities added some employment and related economic activity.” While feed costs have increased and the crop sector has done better than livestock, Hurt said the livestock industries appear to in a recovery phase. Dr. Chris Hurt Testimony

Beef Ranches as Biodiesel Refineries

humphreyThe next set of biodiesel refineries will probably continue to be in rural America, but they might be part of livestock operations. This article from BeefProducer.com says Arkansas State University researcher Kevin Humphrey sees real potential for ranchers to produce their own biodiesel from oil seed crops, waste oil or tallow:

“If all you want to do is extract oil and meal, you can do that. If you want to extract and produce meal and then also produce biodiesel, you can do that,” he says.

Humphrey is using waste oil and oil seed crops — soybeans, canola, and camelina — to make biodiesel. He adds he hasn’t used animal fats but that is a viable option.

Matt Roberts, vice president of marketing for Springboard Biodiesel, says if the oil is collected free, as might be beef tallow from rendering, the biodiesel will cost about 95 cents per gallon to make. That price includes the cost of the chemicals to make the biodiesel — methanol, lye, and sulfuric acid.

The article goes on to point out that with many of the biodiesel feedstock oilseeds, especially soybeans, the resulting meal from the crush is a high quality feed. Plus, the glycerin from biodiesel production can be a livestock feed and an ingredient in soaps, lotions and lubricants.

The author also spoke with Darrell Wood, cattle rancher and owner of Leavitt Lake Ranches in Vina, California, who believes a ranch-based biodiesel refinery might just make his place more sustainable.

“It just opens the door for all kinds of possibilities,” Wood says.

Pretty good article. Give it a read here.

American Farm Bureau Supports RFS

AFBF President Bob Stallman Press ConferenceDelegates for the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) last week voted overwhelmingly to support continuation of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), despite the fact that membership in the organization includes a substantial percentage of livestock producers.

“The livestock guys still have concerns about high feed costs, and I’m one of them, I’m a beef producer,” said AFBF president Bob Stallman. “On the other hand, we have this renewable fuels infrastructure that’s in place, a very large industry that employs lots of people and provides a market for a lot of products, so we need to be very careful not to have policies trying to dismantle that.”

There were 362 voting delegates at the 94th AFBF Annual meeting in Nashville last week representing every crop and livestock sector in the 50 states and Puerto Rico. The policies approved at the annual meeting will guide the nation’s largest general farm organization in its legislative and regulatory efforts throughout 2013.

DF Cast: Biodiesel Helps Livestock Producers

We’ve known for quite a while that biodiesel is helping the bottom lines of feedstock producers, in particular, the nation’s soybean growers. But a new study from the National Biodiesel Board says livestock producers are also sticking more green in their pockets thanks to the green fuel.

In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we hear from the NBB’s senior advisor for economic issues, Alan Weber, and NBB member and Nebraska farmer and livestock producer Greg Anderson, who explain the bottom line results from a new study.

Check out the NBB’s reports here: AF T BD Demand Impact Final and SBM Analysis Feb 2011 Final

You can listen to the Domestic Fuel Cast here: Domestic Fuel Cast - Biodiesel and Livestock

You can also subscribe to the DomesticFuel Cast here.

Algae Producers Look to Market By-Product of Biodiesel

Just as ethanol producers have been able to market the co-product dried distillers grains (DDGs) as livestock feed, those folks producing algae for biodiesel want to find more uses for what’s leftover once you get the fuel out.

“The Departments of Energy and Defense have been interested in producing biofuels, both jet fuels and transportation fuels from algae,” Texas A&M’s Tyron Wickersham told USDA reporter Rod Bain. “We began looking into [by-product of algae] to figure out a way to market or place the co-product into some useful market that could make use of those nutrients, and they naturally turned to livestock with an emphasis on beef cattle.”

Wickersham’s colleague at Texas A&M, Merritt Drewery, explained they are experimenting with feeding the algae by-product directly or mixing it with DDGs or cotton seed. “And this project actually told us that algae was palatable, because they ate it here.”

The researchers are already noting in their study that the algae co-product has a high-protein content.

Listen to Rod Bain’s report here: USDA Report on Algae Biodiesel By-Product as Livestock Feed

Visiting Farmers See Cattle/Ethanol Operation

A group of 17 farmers from Canada, Honduras, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, South Africa, Swaziland, United Kingdom, Uruguay, US, Zambia, and Zimbabwe had the chance to visit a livestock operation with an ethanol plant next door.

The annual Global Farmer Roundtable, organized by Truth About Trade & Technology (TATT), makes Couser Cattle Company a regular stop for the international farmers each year. TATT Chairman Emeritus Dean Kleckner, former president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, is a big supporter of ethanol himself. “I’m a believer in ethanol from corn,” said Kleckner during an interview at World Food Prize, where the roundtable is held each year. “The corn that is used for ethanol, a lot of that comes back to farmers in the form of distillers grains.”

Couser Cattle Company owner Bill Couser was instrumental in starting the farmer-owned Lincolnway Energy ethanol plant in Nevada, Iowa, which is located next to his operation so he can take full advantage of using distillers grains as feed for his livestock.