The Governors' Biofuels Coalition (GBC) wrote yesterday to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack asking the agency to immediately correct its reporting procedures that overstate the amount of corn used for ethanol in the U.S.
"In recent months, global weather disruptions, rising oil prices, commodity speculation, and rising incomes that drive increased demand for grains and meat proteins have combined to once again put upward price pressure on corn and other commodities. Predictably, first-generation ethanol opponents have begun to resurrect the food vs. fuel attacks... despite the fact that numerous studies by global food organizations, the Congressional Budget Office, and other reputable experts confirmed that ethanol was not a significant factor," the letter states.
"Unfortunately, USDA's monthly corn supply and demand reports provide support for this sensationalized reporting because they identify 'corn demand for ethanol' without immediately noting this is gross demand, and not the net use of the starch portion of the corn kernel," the letter continues. "This overstates the use of corn for ethanol by as much as a factor of two or more, and fails to inform the public about what is truly happening in the food and fuel supply chain."
USDA reporting does not take into account the fact that to produce ethanol, only the starch portion of the corn kernel is used, and all the nutritional value of the corn -- the fat, fiber, and protein -- are returned to the food supply in the form of distillers grain, a high-quality livestock feed.
The current USDA reporting system does not count the 33% of the corn that comes back to the nation's supply, giving the impression to the public that ethanol uses much more corn than it actually does. A continuing error of one-third should not be acceptable. I fully agree with the Governors' Biofuels Coalition that the USDA's reporting needs to be corrected as soon as possible so the public and the media can have a more accurate picture of the real amount of corn used for ethanol, as well as ethanol plants' contribution of a valuable food product for the nation's livestock -- food for those that feed us. Food and fuel, not food versus fuel.
Posted by: Kristin Brekke, Communications Director for the American Coalition for Ethanol