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Ethanol boom needs distillers grains exports

Agriculture.com Staff 05/01/2007 @ 9:03am

In 2006 the U.S. ethanol industry produced a record 12 million metric tons of distillers grains but with new plants coming online this year, 2007 production could hit 17 million tons, says Geoff Cooper, director of ethanol and business development at the National Corn Growers Association. Last year about a tenth of U.S. producion of distillers grains was exported.

"The growth that we're looking at in one year is unprecedented," he said.

It took some 20 years to develop a domestic market for the main byproduct of dry grind ethanol plants, dried distillers grains and solubles (DDGS). So the industry is understandably nervous about keeping its foreign buyers happy. And that's why NCGA is urging corn farmers who plant Agrisure RW to keep the crop separated from corn destined for exports. So far, only New Zealand has agreed to import the genetically modified corn, although other nations are expected to approve its use in the future.

"The growth markets in the last two to three years have been in the Pacific Rim as well as Mexico and Canada," Cooper told Agriculture Online.

Mexico is by far the biggest customer of DDGS, buying 367,000 metric tons last year, or 29%, Cooper said. The next six importers, in order of their purchases, were Ireland, Canada, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, the Philippines and Japan. But even Japan's 45,000 metric tons last year represented a huge increase from almost nothing two years ago.

Ireland and the United Kingdom, both members of the European Union, are importing about half the amount they did five years ago, Cooper said. The growth in imports of U.S. DDGS has been in the Pacific and in North America.

In 2006 the U.S. ethanol industry produced a record 12 million metric tons of distillers grains but with new plants coming online this year, 2007 production could hit 17 million tons, says Geoff Cooper, director of ethanol and business development at the National Corn Growers Association. Last year about a tenth of U.S. producion of distillers grains was exported.

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