NASS wants ethanol industry input for distillers grains survey

By Kris Bevill | March 14, 2011

The USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service is seeking comments from the ethanol industry as it develops a survey to collect information from livestock and poultry producers regarding distillers grains. The goal of the project, according to a notice published in the Federal Register, is to conduct a large-scale survey to measure livestock producers’ use of distillers grains and other ethanol and biodiesel co-products. Comments will be accepted until March 28. The survey is tentatively planned for release in January 2012.

Everett Olbert, a NASS agricultural statistician, said NASS participated in conducting a similar in 2007. However, that study was funded by the Nebraska Corn Development, Utilization and Marketing Board and was surveyed producers in just 12 Midwest states. This time, NASS is leading the project and the survey has been expanded to include every state except Alaska and Hawaii. “We’ll use the questionnaire that we used in 2007 as a starting point, but we’re looking for feedback from the industry, both on the ethanol side and the livestock producer side, to see if there are any other additional questions that we should be asking,” Olbert said.

NASS expects to contact 70,000 various livestock and poultry operations in early January to gain information related to their distillers co-products use during 2011. The survey will attempt to determine the rate of use of distillers co-products and various aspects contributing to their decision to use the feed, including nutrient values, product consistency, product form, product testing, inclusion rates, economics, shelf life, storage and transportation. The survey has been named the Distiller’s By-Products Survey in order to encompass all by-products, but Olbert said that focus could be narrowed to concentrate only on distillers grains. “That’s another reason why we need some input from the public and from stakeholders on what kinds of information they need from a survey,” he added.

Results from the survey are expected to be released in September 2012. While the 2007 study compiled regional data only, this survey is expected to produce state-by-state data and will be released at the state level when possible for each livestock species, according to the NASS Federal Register notice. Comments may be submitted via email to ombofficer@nass.usda.gov. The agency requests that docket number 0535-0247 is referenced in the subject line of the email. For further information, contact NASS Associate Administrator Joseph Reilly at 202-720-4333.