ETHANOL: FOREVER A SCAPEGOAT AND CONNECTED TO UKRAINIAN UNREST

What’s next? Will high health insurance prices be blamed on ethanol?

What about your kids’ grades in school? Is that ethanol’s fault, too?

Yes, these examples are definitely a bit of a stretch, but seriously. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear it.

A recent example of “it’s ethanol’s fault” was when Trilby Lundberg reported that ethanol is causing gas prices to rise because there is unrest in Ukraine and Ukraine grows corn and the U.S. ethanol supply is primarily produced from corn and so ethanol is more expensive so gas is more expensive. Run on sentence? Definitely. But that’s the point. It’s like a game of 6 degrees of separation. In a desperate bid to be relevant to the news of the day, ethanol comes up in the same news headline as Ukrainian unrest.

It’s exhausting.

Want to know the real story? Jump on over to this blog at A Farm Girl’s Guide to Agriculture. Gracie does a good job debunking this myth. It’s busted.

As Gracie wrote, “…the United States is a huge exporter of corn. According to the U.S. Grains Council, the United States supplies 50% of the exported corn supply while the Ukraine provides a mere 5.5%. In addition, the United States will import zero bushels of corn in 2014. That’s right- nothing.

The petroleum industry is blaming this rise in gas prices on the ethanol industry. Because the national average for gasoline is $3.51 (as of 3/10/14)- which is the highest it’s been since September- it’s automatically ethanol’s fault. Probably because they want to increase the ethanol blend in regular gasoline from 10% to 15% [insert sarcasm here].

Guess what? Ethanol actually LOWERS gasoline prices! If you were to buy ethanol (85% blend) at retail, it’s about $2.89/gallon in central Illinois (as of 3/10/14). That’s compared to the $3.48/gallon gasoline at the same gas station this morning. So yes, ethanol is definitely causing higher gasoline prices [insert more sarcasm here].”

Tricia Braid
Illinois Corn Communications Director

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SHOOT IT STRAIGHT VIDEO CONTEST FINALISTS

We received a lot of great videos for the Shoot it Straight Video Contest and have narrowed it down to these four finalists.  Vote for your favorite (you can vote once a day) and let us know who you want to win!


Ethanol and the American Farmer
Dylan Stahly, Huron, SD

Cultivating the Fuel of the Future
Michelle Goffreda, Perrineville, NJ

Cornelius the Cob
Lewie Kloster, Minneapolis, MN


Agriculture: The Fuel Behind Ethanol
Jason Girouard, Brimfield, MA

CORN PRODUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES

MQuigley_InfographicThe United States is the leading producer of corn in the world, and as could be assumed, corn is number one in America’s crop production. In fact, corn production is approximately two times the amount of any other crop in America. While the U.S. leads in production, some areas of the country, predominantly the Midwest, have more fertile lands that are full of nutrients that support the growth of crops, like corn. The expansive area of fertile land is known as the Corn Belt, and it is responsible for producing more than one third of the nation’s corn. Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Indiana are the top five producing states in the U.S. They, among seven other states (Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri, Kansas, and South Dakota), make up the Corn Belt of America.

CornField

Corn is not as simple as corn. There is a clear distinction between field corn and sweet corn. Both are grown in America, but field corn is more widely produced and accounts for approximately 90% of the nation’s corn growth. Therefore, when you see a corn field, it is likely field corn that is being grown. Visually, field corn that has matured has a distinctive dent in each kernel. Perhaps not as well known, field corn plants are quite tall, dark green in color, and are harvested when the plant has matured and the stalks begin to yellow. There are a number of uses for field corn, including exports, ethanol, and food ingredients and products. The United States is the largest exporter of corn in the world, and it is estimated that the U.S. will export 1.1 billion bushels of corn for the 2012-2013 growing season. Aside from exports, one bushel of corn is capable of producing 2.7 gallons of ethanol. About 40% of the field corn produced goes towards ethanol production. Eight bushels of corn has enough calories to feed a single person for a full year. What is a bushel, you may ask? Well, a bushel is a measurement of weight that is equal to approximately 56 pounds of corn.

MQuigley_EarCornImage

While it may seem that field corn fully embodies the word “corn”, there is another type. Sweet corn accounts for less than 5% of the nation’s corn growth. However, sweet corn is what you eat directly… during the summer, at picnics, at fairs. Sweet corn is eaten on or off the cob, grilled or boiled. It has rounded kernels, unlike the dented kernels that field corn has. The plants, themselves, are shorter and more yellow-green than field corn plants and are harvested while the plant is immature and still green. It is bred for an increased sugar content that is evident in its “sweet” taste. Whether it is field corn or sweet corn that is being produced, the average American farmer produces enough corn to feed 155 people. Corn production is a significant component in American society, economics, geography, and culture.

MeganQuigleyMegan Quigley
University of St. Francis Student

40 FACTS ABOUT ETHANOL

“40 Facts About Ethanol” is a quick and entertaining overview of the American ethanol industry. Learn more about the growth of the ethanol industry over time, ethanol’s success in lowering America’s dependence on foreign oil, numbers of jobs created and supported across the economy, ethanol production and livestock feed, new efficiencies that save water and electricity, ethanol’s winning energy balance, and cellulosic ethanol. The future is bright!

AND ON THE FIFTEENTH, WE GET NEWS ABOUT E-15

We couldn’t have scripted it better had this been the story line of a movie. Here on the 15th day of January, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied petitions for rehearing in the case of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, et al. v. EPA, which challenged the decision by the Environmental Protection Agency to permit the commercial use of E15. Get it? News about E-15 on the 15th? Yup, we’re pretty easy to entertain here at the IL Corn offices!

All that legalese up above boils down to this: another court threw out the nonsensical challenges to E-15, a blend of fuel made from 15% ethanol and 85% petroleum based fuels. In the late summer of 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved E-15 as a new fuel for cars and light trucks, model years 2001 and newer, along with flex-fuel vehicles.

In this case, there were those in the food industry that unsuccessfully tried to resurrect the worn-out argument that ethanol raises food prices. Although one can understand how someone might come to that conclusion based on so much bad information that is available on the topic, it doesn’t make it right.

Wasn’t it Mark Twain that said, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.” Boy, that’s appropriate in the case of ethanol, for sure.

Here are some great points to keep in mind if you hear arguments against ethanol, its performance, its ability to lessen our dependence on foreign energy, its benefits to the local economy, and the fact that it’s renewable.

  • Without ethanol, gasoline would cost $0.20-$0.35 cents more per gallon.  That      translates into an additional $6.00-$10.50 to purchase 30 gallons a month. (Source: U.S. Dept. of Energy, 2008)
  • The U.S. Ethanol industry accounts for only 3% of the world’s grain supply on a net basis, and none of its food supply. (Source: USDA and Renewable Fuels Association)
  • In the U.S., only about 1% of the corn  grown is needed to meet the demand for direct human consumption (sweet corn).  Less than 10% of the field corn grown is needed for processing for food uses.  Sweet corn, in fact, is consumed in only a small percentage of the world’s countries.
  • One-third of the corn that goes into  ethanol production is recycled into the food chain as ready-made livestock  feed, a byproduct called Dried Distillers Grains (DDGS).  DDGS has a higher protein concentration  than pre-ethanol corn, making it more efficient as animal feed.
  • Corn is not the sole food source for  livestock.  Up to 25% of swine feed and up to 30% of cattle feed is comprised of soybean meal.  94% of U.S. soybeans are made into      animal feed, but only about 40% of U.S. corn goes to animals.

1-15-13 pie charts

Braid Terry_Tricia  mugshotTricia Braid
ICGA/ICMB Communications Director

NASCAR SPEEDS ETHANOL TO A RESPONSIVE FAN BASE

The question has been posed to the IL Corn office and farmer leaders on more than one occasion…”Why is it a good idea to get involved in a NASCAR sponsorship?”

Fair question.  The answer may seem obvious if you’re one of NASCAR’s more than 80 million fans in this country. Or maybe you’re a fan, but you’re not really sure of the answer, either.

It’s a pretty simple answer. NASCAR delivers an audience unlike any other.

NASCAR fans are more likely than any other sports fans to support sponsor messages.

NASCAR fans are more likely to purchase the products that are responsible for their sport’s sponsorship.

NASCAR fans are more likely to influence their friends to do the same thing.

The bottom line to this story is the Start/Finish line at a NASCAR race. It’s all about the fans.

Take a look at this chart. Not only do NASCAR fans deliver on their promise to support race sponsors, but the sport itself generates media coverage that can’t be bought.

In the case of ethanol, NASCAR was responsible for a huge portion of the news coverage that included ethanol, much more than what the ethanol industry or corn farmer organizations could have generated themselves.

2011 brought E15 to NASCAR race cars and trucks. 2012 will bring it to a gas pump near you. And for the NASCAR fan, they’ll be chomping at the bit to fuel up with the same high-performance fuel that their favorite driver uses.

Tricia Braid
ICGA/ICMB Communications Director

CELEBRATE ETHANOL DURING SUNDAY’S NASCAR RACE AT DAYTONA

Ethanol, racing, daytonaBe a part of history as American Ethanol and your corn checkoff help start the engines when NASCAR kicks off the 2011 season in Daytona.  You are officially invited to celebrate your part in making Sunoco Green E15 the official fuel of NASCAR.

Please join the broadcast on FOX as millions watch the green ethanol flag start the race and a new era for ethanol made from corn.  The NASCAR move to American Ethanol will showcase the performance you have known about for years.  Now everyone will know thanks to your corn checkoff investment.