Representatives of the U.S. livestock and poultry industries testified before a House agriculture subcommittee today that changes in ethanol policy are necessary to ensure the availability of corn for animal feed, but the ethanol industry disagrees.
According to the Renewable Fuels Association, America’s ethanol producers are on pace to produce nearly 40 million metric tons of livestock feed in 2011 – a volume greater than all the corn used on cattle feedlots all across the country. “When a bushel of corn enters an ethanol plant, fully one third of that bushel gets returned to the livestock feed market in the form of distillers grains,” said RFA’s Matt Hartwig, who adds that the industry wants to work with livestock producers to increase efficiency and usage of distillers grains.
The hearing by the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry on Wednesday included no representatives from the corn or ethanol industries and raised the food versus fuel flag again, but Hartwig encourages lawmakers to look beyond the price of corn as the cause of higher food prices. “A pound of pork chops retails for around $3.50 and in that pound, there is roughly 30 cents worth of corn at today’s prices,” Hartwig says. “So there are other factors after that pig leaves the farm that influence the prices consumers pay at the retail level” like higher energy prices, labor and manufacturing.
Listen to Hartwig’s comments in this edition of “The Ethanol Report”: Ethanol Report on Feed Availability