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Alltech officials doubt corn industry's ability to keep pace with ethanol growth

Agriculture.com Staff 01/23/2007 @ 2:02pm

A recent series of lectures for farmers, nutritionists, feed mill managers and others presented by Alltech addressed growing concerns about the amount of corn being diverted from animal agriculture to ethanol production.

The problem facing animal agriculture is two-fold:

  1. Exploding demand leads to higher corn prices
  2. With more distilleries, there will be more dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS), which Alltech officials say is an inconsistent feed source.

"This is a problem not only for today, but for tomorrow and for years to come," said Alltech president Pearse Lyons. "With the president's biofuels mandate of 20% in 2020 and 30% in 2030, ethanol is the darling of Wall Street, but presents a problem on the rural route," said Lyons, in reference to President George W. Bush's challenge to America to provide 20% and 30% of its fuel as biofuels by 2020 and 2030 respectively.

As corn prices recently soared to a 10-year high in the U.S., some agricultural experts are beginning to express concern about the supply of corn for the feed and food industries. From 175 million gallons in 1980 to an estimated 11 billion gallons in 2008, the corn-fed fuel is driving an economic boom around the world, but at the same time utlizing a large share of the corn supply. Some analysts predict the ethanol industry will pull 139 million tons of corn from the 2008 harvest.

"We had the third largest corn crop in history and second largest yield in history, and yet the prices of corn are going through the roof," said Lyons.

James Pierce, coordinator of monogastric nutrition at Alltech, explained that one way to address the rising cost of feedstuffs is through secondary fermentation products. Through solid-state fermentation (SSF), we can grow organisms on DDGs, the co-products of ethanol, that will give us a more consistent and higher quality feed source.

"Variability of DDGs is a major problem facing today's farmer," said Pierce.

A recent series of lectures for farmers, nutritionists, feed mill managers and others presented by Alltech addressed growing concerns about the amount of corn being diverted from animal agriculture to ethanol production.

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