RFA quantifies ethanol's contribution to feed supply

By Susanne Retka Schill | September 08, 2008
Web exclusive posted Sept. 29, 2008 at 11:55 a.m. CST

The Renewable Fuels Association released a report Sept. 25 analyzing the impact of the U.S. ethanol industry on the nation's feed supplies. The report found American ethanol producers delivered 23 million metric tons of livestock and poultry feed last year, or nearly three times the amount of wheat, sorghum, barley and oats fed to U.S. livestock in the 2007-'08 marketing year. In other words, the RFA said the amount of feed produced by the ethanol industry in 2007-'08 is roughly equivalent to the combined total amount of feed consumed by fed cattle in the four leading states, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado.

The corn ethanol industry has been criticized by livestock and poultry producers for driving up feed prices by using all the corn supply. The RFA report points out that ethanol feed coproducts displaced about one billion bushels of corn in 2007-'08, or about 15 percent of the total corn use for feed. In addition, distillers grains exports in 2008 are expected to total more than four million metric tons or the equivalent of about 160 million bushels of corn.

In evaluating ethanol's corn usage, the RFA noted that the industry needs to factor in the return of distillers grains to the feed market. Claims of ethanol using one-third or more of the nation's corn supply are misleading, the RFA said. The USDA estimates the ethanol industry's gross corn usage for the 2008-'09 marketing year is 4.1 billion bushels. However, when the impact of the feed coproducts is accounted for, the RFA said the net corn usage for ethanol will be 2.9 billion bushels, or about 23 percent of total projected corn usage. The RFA estimates gross corn usage at 3.8 billion bushels, which is also lower than the USDA's projections.

The RFA report, "Feeding the Future: the Role of the U.S. Ethanol Industry in Food and Feed Production" is available on the RFA Web site, on the resource center web page.