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By Staff | Jun 3, 2010

Distiller’s dried grain is the Rodney Dangerfield of the ethanol and feed industries. It gets little respect.

In its case, much less respect than it deserves. Nearly a third of a bushel of corn going to ethanol processing comes out as DDG. It’s very high quality feed.

It was ignored in Pimental’s bogus negative Net Energy Study conclusion of ethanol that got so much publicity despite being so thoroughly discredited. Peer revue killed negative ethanol net energy studies.

You can virtually reduce the corn input going into ethanol production by a third when recognizing the value of DDG as an offset.

The ethanol process creates DDG in such large quantities the industry calls it a co-product instead of a by-product. You have to want to make that much of a mistake, disregarding DDG in studies, in order to discredit ethanol.

40 percent of the ration in our beef feedlot is DDG, displacing a lot of corn.

Low carbon reduction scoring of ethanol relative to petroleum, is more of the same careless false science that negative net energy studies produce. It takes 3 gallons of diesel fuel to grow 200 bushels per acre of corn on our farm that produces 560 gallons of ethanol.

That’s a good trade, 3 for 560, wouldn’t you say? The carbon scorers say, “Hey, wait, you have to deduct for inputs N-P-K fertilizer that it takes to grow the corn.”

No, that has already been accounted for in the DDG. Whatever change in carbon scoring is required to account for the fertilizer, it is offset by the conservation of N-P-K in DDG. There is no N-P or K in ethanol.

You can add high protein DDG to stalks and forage and get a ration that would eliminate any indirect land use calculation used to deflate ethanol’s carbon reduction relative to petroleum.

The National Corn Growers Association takes it further, saying, “In 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts our corn farmers will produce more than 300 million more bushels than just three years ago, and do so on nearly 5 million fewer acres. International indirect land use change theory completely ignores or significantly downplays grower ingenuity and modern agronomy.

This junk science needs to go the way of the horse-drawn plow. The U.S. EPA recognizes that corn ethanol provides a greenhouse-gas reduction between 21 percent and 52 percent. In addition, according to researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the energy balance of corn-based ethanol is two to three times more favorable than earlier estimates, and expected to keep improving.”

Here is another surprise. China, buying U.S. corn again for the first time in several years, made headlines and impacted markets. We don’t know how much corn China will buy, but to date, the U.S. Grain Council said the tally is 15 cargos, or 35 million bushels.

The Grain Council estimates that in 2010, China will purchase 2 million metric tons of DDG, equivalent to over 78 million bushels of corn, over twice the corn bought.

Anti-ethanol science is bogus, perpetrating fraud by special interests that are protecting their petroleum market share and financial interests that could care less about anything else.

Yes, corn prices spiked when the market signaled corn producers to expand production, but they did respond and corn prices are now once again barely profitable for those who grow it, to the enduser’s delight.

Studies failed to confirm higher corn prices as a reason for high food costs. Food costs to consumers as a percentage of disposable income has gone down since the ethanol industry was developed.

The amount of rain forest in South America deforested has declined significantly while the ethanol industry was built.

BPs busted gulf well is a teaching moment, but there is little sign yet that the wake-up call has been effective to put ethanol’s comparatively negligible environmental impact in the correct perspective for public consumption.

If you could see 400 million barrels of oil stacked in one place it would be a remarkable sight. That’s how much imported oil that the 12 billion gallons of ethanol will displace this year reducing U.S. energy dependence.

You could also take that 12 billion gallons of raw ethanol and dump it in the Gulf of Mexico with negligible environmental impact. It is by far the most environmentally friendly fuel.

David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.

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