Ethanol To Consume 34% of US Corn Production in 2009

Ethanol manufacturers are expected to use 3.6 billion bushels of corn, or about a third of the US corn crop during 2008/09 marketing year. This is an increase of about 7 percentage points up from about quarter of the US corn crop the prior marketing year. As I have noted previously, ethanol from corn has a horrible ROE (Return on Energy). Corn ethanol only nets 1.3 times the fossil fuel energy required to produce it.

From All About Feed:

A study by Informa Economics forecast ethanol to climb to 34% of US corn production in 2009.

Nearly 80% of the 820 farmers surveyed at the American Farm Bureau Federation's annual meeting in San Antonio said ethanol was beneficial for agriculture, but 17% of respondents said it did more harm than good.

The Farm Bureau is the nation's largest farm group, representing producers of cattle and hogs as well as growers of cotton, wheat and corn.

Lower oil demand and the financial problems in the ethanol sector might depress corn use for ethanol. The Reuters poll found that still about 55% expected some of their corn crop to go toward production of the renewable fuel this year.

Ethanol has been sharply criticized by the food industry and aid groups for diverting corn away from livestock and food makers, pushing world food prices up.

Higher feed costs
Farmers were aware of the criticism, and 35% said ethanol's biggest impact was creating higher livestock and feed costs as well as higher food prices.

Farm and biofuel groups, along with the US Department of Agriculture, have deflected that criticism, saying factors other than ethanol are primarily to blame, including volatile oil prices and increased global food demand.

Slow growth
After years of rapid growth, ethanol has begun to show its age. But the government's so-called renewable fuels standard, which requires the use of 11.1 billion gallons of renewable fuels in 2009, should help growth during the next few years. But some analysts and the Renewable Fuels Association, which represents the industry, are forecasting consolidation among ethanol firms due to tighter operating margins and less demand because of a drop in gasoline use.

USDA has cut its projection for corn used for ethanol by 400 million bushels in two months to reflect these concerns.

Coincidentally today an editorial from the New York Times on America's Energy Inefficiencies. We cannot afford mistakes of this magnitude. The question is how do we fight the perception of ethanol as a viable alternative fuel?

Tags: US Ethanol Production (all tags)

Comments

9 Comments

The problem isn't ethanol...

...the problem is ethanol from corn. That's the difficulty.

Fossil fuels are evil, we know that. Biofuels are much better but still not great, as long as they don't come from corn or soy or...

by iohs2008 2009-01-19 04:34PM | 0 recs
Re: The problem isn't ethanol...

This is true. The problem is clearly corn ethanol.

by Charles Lemos 2009-01-19 05:05PM | 0 recs
ethanol is corny.

i think the fact that alternative energy is and is becoming more of a mainstream goal is progress and success in of itself.

by canadian gal 2009-01-19 04:59PM | 0 recs
Re: ethanol is corny.

Not really. The U.S. lags significantly behind the rest of the world right now. This is probably going to be the next boom, and I question whether america is ready for it.

by bruh3 2009-01-20 04:05AM | 0 recs
Diverting corn from livestock?

I'm sorry, but they're just bitching about corn being wasted one way so they can go ahead and waste it another way.

http://www.worldwatch.org/node/1626

http://www.news.cornell.edu/releases/aug 97/livestock.hrs.html

And wasted in a very environmentally damaging way too.

http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006 /1000448/index.html

by Bush Bites 2009-01-19 05:30PM | 0 recs
I'm of 2 minds on this:

1)  more corn=more corn syrup which is clearly part of what is wrecking the American diet.

2)  Less corn=more expensive food for people which clearly is not good for grocery store prices or people at the bottom of the economic ladder.

I think most agricultural policy RE:corn is probably more complex and probably shouldn't be done in a vacuum (subsidies, ethanol etc.).  Nutrition, energy policy, the Dep't of Agriculture and USDA/food supply issues are all tools that can be used to make people's lives better.

by AZphilosopher 2009-01-19 05:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Ethanol To

The poor are just going to have to deal with it.  If a few die of hunger, well in the balance they'll benefit in the long run.

We're destroying the planet, Global Warming is going to kill us within four years if we don't do something about it.

All the scientists agree.

by verona 2009-01-20 04:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Ethanol To Consume 34% of US

You know what I like about ethanol?

Fertilizers, pesticides, diesel fuel--all made from petroleum.  So producing ethanol actually increases demand for petroleum.

And you wondered how they got all those ethanol laws past the oil lobby.  

As always, the American public is too dumb to see through it.

by SuperCameron 2009-01-20 07:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Ethanol To Consume 34% of US

That's why the ROE (return on energy) is so low. It's about a 14% ROE.

by Charles Lemos 2009-01-20 06:25PM | 0 recs

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