Saturday, June 30, 2007

Federal Government Expands Use of Renewable Fuels

The NEVC is reporting a milestone this week that helps the US Government expand its use of E85 infrastructure for its renewable fuel vehicles. Although the US Government has purchased Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFV) for several years, its fueling centers did not carry the E85 fuel.

The U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee this week approved a broad based energy package that included an amendment authored by Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Michigan) that would direct federal agencies to install pumps for renewable fuels like E85 at their fleet fueling centers.

“I was pleased the Committee accepted my amendment to expand the availability of E85 and renewable fuel pumps at federal government refueling stations,” Stupak said. “The federal government is the largest energy consumer in our nation and needs to lead by example. By mandating the expansion of renewable fuel pumps at federal refueling stations, we can ensure federal agencies increase their renewable fuel use and help America move away from its dependence on foreign oil.”

Executive Orders issued by Presidents Clinton and Bush directed federal agencies to increase their consumption of alternative fuels. Each year, the Department of Energy issues a progress report on compliance with the Orders. The reports found that while the federal government has invested significantly in purchasing alternative fuel vehicles, the vehicles continue to run on traditional gasoline because most federal refueling centers do not carry renewable fuels.

“Our nation needs to move towards fuel sources that are grown in the Midwest and stop relying on energy sources that come from the Middle East,” Stupak added. “Ensuring the federal government’s vehicles use renewable fuels will be a strong start.”

The National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition is the nation’s primary advocate of the use of 85% ethanol as a form of alternative transportation fuel.

Source: National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition

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Friday, June 29, 2007

U.S. Farmers Plant Largest Corn Crop in 63 Years


USDA Food and Fuel Food vs. Fuel Food versus FuelU.S. farmers planted the largest corn crop in 63 years---92.9 million acres of corn in 2007 which exceeded last year's planting area by 19%. These new dramatic numbers were reported today by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). NASS also reported that the planting numbers surpassed the March 2007 projection by 3%. This increase in plantings indicates that American farmers are responding to marketplace signals and are working hard to meet the needs of all of their customers.

NASS cited several reasons for this increased planting:
  • favorable prices
  • growing ethanol demand and
  • strong export sales
Iowa continued to lead all states in total corn acres and state records were also set in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and North Dakota.

More information is available at the NASS website HERE

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Why Are Milk Prices High?

A sharp-eyed reader of sent this link to an *article* from late 2004 noting how the media forgets what it already knows. The CBS Marketplace story detailed how dairymen wanted to keep the price of milk high. The story also noted that the milk was at a historical "high price of $3.57 in June 2004". As a current comparison, the national average price for milk in May 2007 was $3.27. ALSO--read High Milk Prices, Part 2.

High Milk Prices Cow Dairy Food vs Fuel Food versus FuelGot Milk? ... And a calculator? ...And a Ph.D in Economics? Well you might just need all that plus more to answer such a simple question. We've found one media outlet who's gotten the story right (It's a relief to know that all is not lost!) The California Sacramento Bee ran a report this week which looked at the complexities involved in determining the price of ordinary milk in California.

The Bee spoke with experts about how the system works and what factors are driving milk costs higher. The answers might surprise you if all you've recently heard and read has been from the main stream media. (Of course, you really won't be surprised if you are a regular reader of Higher energy costs, tight supply, higher milk demand and retail marketing costs all account for higher milk costs.

The full article is worth reading but here are two key points:

"Q: What determines the price of milk?

A: Unlike any other food, the base price of milk in California is calculated each month from a formula. State officials plug in the market prices for the four globally traded dairy commodities -- butterfat, dry milk powder, whey powder (a byproduct of cheese-making) and cheddar cheese -- and churn out the price that bottlers must pay farmers for their milk.

Q: Is the demand for corn to feed ethanol refineries leading to higher dairy prices?

No -- or at least not yet.

Corn is a staple feed on large dairy farms, and it is about 35 percent more expensive this year than last, largely due to the demand from new ethanol plants. But feed costs are not part of the formula that determines the price of milk, so there's no direct way for dairy farmers to pass on their costs to bottlers and consumers."

You can read the full article HERE

It's a hearty "Well Done" from us here at Food and Fuel to reporter
Jim Downing and his editors for getting the story right.

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Source: Sacramento Bee
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Ethanol Plants Win "Energy Star" Awards

This week the Environmental Protection Agency recognized two ethanol plants in the Midwest with "Energy Star" awards for reducing their energy consumption. The companies installed a system, known as Combined Heat and Power (CHP), that makes use of heat that would otherwise be wasted.

Macon Municipal Utilities of Macon, Mo., was recognized for a system installed at its 45 million gallon-per-year ethanol plant in Northeast Missouri. Also, Adkins Energy LLC won for a system installed at its 40-million gallon per year plant in Illinois.

According to the EPA, ethanol plants can use the technology to reduce by more than 12 percent how much energy is used per gallon of ethanol produced.

More information is available from the EPA website HERE.

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BioFuels are Top Farm-Bill Goal in Rural America

Reuters reported this week that rural Americans say that the top priority for the new U.S. farm-bill should be more investment in renewable energy, which could expand the ethanol boom that has brought jobs and cash to the countryside, according to a poll released on Wednesday.

The report noted that in rural America, ethanol is valued as a home-grown alternative to imported oil, as a price-boosting market for corn and other crops, and an employer that pays good wages.

The report also noted:
"Ethanol may be the single most important value-added industry," said Matt Hartwig of the Renewable Fuels Association, an ethanol trade group. By one measure, RFA said, the ethanol industry was responsible for 163,000 jobs.
You can read the full report HERE.

Source: Reuters

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Tennessee Governor Proclaims "Biofuels Day"

As millions prepare to celebrate their freedom this July Fourth, Governor Phil Bredesen is encouraging Tennesseans to kick off the pre-holiday weekend by celebrating independence with biofuels.

Governor Bredesen has declared June 28th as the first ever Biofuels Day in Tennessee and announced his plan to get more Tennesseans to try clean, homegrown, renewable biofuels.

"I'm pleased to designate June 28th as Biofuels Day in Tennessee, said Governor Bredesen. In addition, I am encouraging fueling stations across the state to reduce their prices on ethanol and biodiesel for this special one-day event. Millions will be hitting the road this weekend for the July Fourth holiday and I want to invite all Tennesseans as well as those passing through our state to consider celebrating their independence with biofuels."

The Biofuels Proclamation can be found HERE (note, this is a PDF file)

In addition, TN now has a map of existing biofuels locations at


DC Goes FFV with First E85 Station

Thursday was a historic "first" for the District of Columbia. Its first E85 (85% ethanol) filling station opened Thursday at the Chevron on Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown. WTOP reported the following:

General Motors, the largest producer of flex-fuel cars, is helped to dedicate the station. Flex-fuel cars can use gasoline, ethanol or any mixture of the two. GM has more than two million cars on the roads right now that are capable of using flex fuel fuel technology.

"The vehicle is smart enough to understand and sense what level is in the fuel tank, and what is important to is that the E85 Ethanol displaces petroleum and it is a renewable fuel, so it is something we can produce here in the United States," says Beth Lowery, vice president of Environment and Energy for General Motors.

As for the price, it should actually cost less than gasoline.

"Generally, in the stations that we've been involved in around the country, it is about 20 cents cheaper than the gasoline at that station," Lowery says.

General Motors says people should expect more stations in the future in the District.

Source: WTOP Radio

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The Kruse Report: Breaking Oil Addiction

Indiana State Senator Dennis Kruse has an interesting and
informative essay available over at the Muncie Free Press.
He makes several key points in the essay entitled

The Kruse Report: Breaking Oil Addiction

that are worth mentioning:

  • "You don't have to take many trips to the gas station to realize prices continuously fluctuate.
  • Domestically produced ethanol reduces America's dependence upon foreign sources of energy.

  • A step in breaking the addiction is by using E85 in flex fuel vehicles.

  • High gas prices are a result of the lack of investment in new fuel technology in past years.

Read the entire article HERE.

Source: Muncie Free Press

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Ethanol Byproducts Pelletized

The USDA Agriculture Research Service announced this week that they've made a major achievement in improving the functionality of an ethanol by-product---Dried Distillers Grains with Solubles (DDGS) shaped into pellets. DDGS are nutritional "left-overs" from the ethanol process that can be used for animal feed. It is just one example of how ethanol does not have to mean food OR fuel but rather both food AND fuel. And being formed into pellets means corn has greater continued use as a feed for cattle, pork, fish and poultry. Here's the news from the USDA:

One hundred percent of distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS), a byproduct of ethanol production, can be pelletized without adding a binding agent or anything else, according to Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and cooperators.

ARS agricultural engineeer Kurt Rosentrater has turned DDGS from corn-based ethanol production into high-quality pellets using processing equipment at a commercial feed mill. And the heating used in pelletizing did not harm the high-protein, low-starch nutrient content. Rosentrater is at the ARS North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory, Brookings, S.D. He does this research with colleagues at ARS and at nearby South Dakota State University.

Cattle feed is currently the primary outlet for distiller's grain. But other livestock such as swine and poultry can also eat it. To date, there are no commercial DDGS pellets available for livestock, which limits the byproduct’s use in rangeland settings. DDGS is the protein, fat, fiber, unconverted starch and ash left over after ethanol production.

Fish raised for food in the growing aquaculture industry eat pelletized feed, but those pellets contain commercial fish meal as a protein source, not the less-expensive distiller's grain. Rosentrater is experimenting with adding soy and corn flour to distiller's grain to produce pelletized feeds, to see how far he can reduce the fish meal—or if he can eliminate it entirely.

This pelletizing work also promises to solve a growing problem of product deterioration—as well as hardening and caking problems during shipping and storage, which can clog the various chutes and bins that DDGS flows through. With an increasing supply of the byproduct, ethanol plants have to ship it greater distances to reach markets.

South Dakota, one of the country's biggest ethanol-producing states, expects to produce a billion gallons of ethanol to fuel vehicles next year—about the entire nation's production in 1999. Today, nationwide ethanol production is more than five billion gallons a year, and that amount will increase as new plants come online.

Ethanol plants are spreading outside of the Corn Belt, with plants now in New York and California, for example.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.

Source: USDA ARS


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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Corn Growers Jump on Demand

WTOC 11, Savannah Georgia, ran a report today that highlighted several key points regarding corn and ethanol. Some key points from their report are worth highlighting because they tell what others in the industry have known all along, that corn growers are meeting the new market demands for corn, ethanol helps to lower fuel prices and corn grower production methods are good for the environment:
  • What farmers plant in the field could soon help you pay less at the fuel pump.

  • When President Bush and others pushed for more ethanol made from corn, farmers planted corn in near record numbers this year.

  • Besides the great price right now, farmers have another reason to grow more corn. The stalks, the leaves and the rest make good compost to put back in the ground for next year's crops.

  • "They (livestock growers and ethanol manufacturers) don't like $4 corn. You know that's typical of agriculture," explained Bulloch County's UGA Extension Agent Pat Todd.

  • What profit farmers get from corn this year helps offset years of losses. He guesses he and others will plant it as long as the price holds.

Source: WTOC 11, Savannah Georgia
balanced food and fuel ethanol energy security

Monday, June 25, 2007

Biofuels Beat Oil by Any Environmental Measure

The DesMoines Register recently ran a special section critical of the ethanol industry. The paper offered sensational "what if worse cases" and omitted the many benefits ethanol provides to the environment. Here's a good letter-to-editor which helped to explain their reporting omissions:
Biofuels Beat Oil by any Environmental Measure, June 24
Letter to the Editor
The members of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association were shocked and dismayed by the recent special section titled "How Biofuels Pollute" (June 3).

As producers of biodiesels we take pride in producing an environmentally friendly fuel in an environmentally sound manner. Yet, by highlighting isolated incidents and hypothesizing worst-case scenarios, the Register left readers with an impression that every gallon of biofuel production harms the environment. Quite the opposite is true.

Since no current or envisioned motor fuel is completely benign, there is really only one question to ask: Does the production and use of biodiesel and ethanol reduce the negative impact of petroleum products? The answer is a resounding yes.

Biofuel production uses less water, and biofuels are biodegradable. Biofuel production is much cleaner for the air, and biofuel use reduces particulate matter and smog-forming emissions. In addition to these clear environmental benefits, biofuels reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create jobs and investment opportunities in rural America.

Governed by strict environmental regulations, the water discharged from biofuel plants is actually cleaner than when it entered the facility. Further, the discharged water is cleaner than the river or stream into which it is released.

The Register's portrayal of the biofuel industry in Iowa did a disservice to the leaders of the renewable-fuels industry. We should not turn a blind eye to concerns regarding the production and use of biofuels, but neither should we distort the positive role biofuels play in addressing some of our most pressing issues: energy security, economic development, clean air and water and global climate change.

While not a silver bullet, biodiesel and ethanol are clearly superior fuels to oil-derived products. As we continue to embrace biofuels, we embrace a cleaner, more secure future.

Monte Shaw
Executive Director
Iowa Renewable Fuels Association,
Johnston Iowa
Source: DesMoines Register
balanced food and fuel ethanol energy security biofuels biodiesel

MSU Picked to Develop Future of Ethanol

The Detroit News reported today that the University of Michigan will be tapped to lead research into developing ethanol into a realistic part of the nation's energy future. Some key points from this development:

  • MSU and the University of Wisconsin will team up to figure out the basic science that would allow conversion of ordinary plant matter into fuel to replace gasoline.
  • Renewable-energy experts consider the effort to be vital as the United States seeks to curb its use of oil imports and fight global warming.
  • Scientists are eager to use ethanol produced from cellulose, a material found in all plant matter.
  • "It's very simple," said DeCicco. "We're looking at a need for some breakthroughs in fuel technology. It's been very difficult, and it's very, very important."

Source: Detroit News
balanced food and fuel enery ethanol security

Rainy Weekend in Illinois Restores Corn Crop's Health

Good news from WREX Channel 13 in Rockford IL that recent rains are keeping the state's corn crop looking good to excellent. Some key points gleaned from their full report:

  • A rainy weekend showered central Illinois with two or more inches of badly needed moisture and pumped new life into what had been a sagging Illinois corn crop.
  • A week ago, many of the state's corn farmers were worried. A dry six weeks had left their plants weak.
  • The U-S Department of Agriculture now estimates that 69 percent of the state's corn crop is in good or excellent shape, up from 56 percent last week.
  • The National Weather Service says rainfall between this weekend ranged from 3-point-1 inches in Springfield and 2-point-43 inches in Bloomington to 1-point-52 inches in Danville.
  • Illinois farmers planted a record 12-point-9 (m) million acres of corn this year to feed demand created by the increased production of the fuel additive ethanol
Source: WREX Channel 13
balanced food and fuel ethanol energy security

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Don't Blame Farmers For High Food Prices

Bill Bruins, the President of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau, has published an essay regarding recent food price increases from a farm perspective that is worth reading. You won't, of course, find this perspective in any major newspaper because it won't help sell papers with their normal Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt reporting!
By: Bill Bruins, Farm Bureau President - 06/22/2007

Recent increases in retail food prices have been blamed on the farmers, from the media to even some within the food marketing system. Can you imagine farmers, who are trying to keep their farms profitable and feed, and now fuel the world, are getting 'blamed' for higher prices?

Farmers are being blamed for higher corn prices from expanded production of ethanol and higher feed prices that are increasing the cost of producing milk and meat. It's important to keep the cost of food in the United States in perspective. Farmers should be looked congratulated for being able to respond to the demands of consumers for both food and fuel.

Many factors are influencing the increases in food prices, mainly higher petroleum prices that add the cost to food through trucking and packaging. Strong consumer demand in the U.S. and around the world for dairy products is keeping markets tight. Drought in the Southeast is affecting vegetable, fruit and grain prices and supplies. And yes, higher grain prices are having an affect on egg and poultry production and retail prices.

Keep in mind American's spend about 10 percent of their disposable income on food, far less than any other population in the world. Also remember that the farmer only receives 19 cents out of every food dollar that is spent, so the bulk of the cost of food comes after the materials leave the farm.

When you compare the price of other basic commodities and food products from 1979 to 2007, corn prices have barely moved. A postage stamp cost 15 cents in 1979; now it's 42 cents, a jump of 173 percent. Gasoline used to cost 86 cents a gallon. Now at an average of $3.02 a gallon, it's up 261 percent. The minimum wage, which determines a lot of farm labor costs, was $1.80 an hour then. It's $7.25 an hour now. Yet the average price of corn was $3 a bushel in 1979, and at $3.50 a bushel it's gone up only 17 percent in 28 years.

One farmer can feed more than 140 people, about 20 people more than 20 years ago through new technology and improvements in production. American agriculture has a tremendous capacity to produce food and fiber, and now fuel for our country and beyond.

When prices improve, farmers aren't out there buying BMWs. They are investing their income back into their farms to keep them profitable when times turn the other direction. And if slightly higher food prices in the store find its way to the farmer's pocket to pay for higher production costs, it's much deserved, and the way our free market system should work. The alternative is government programs, which the public, and farmers, don't like.

Wisconsin farmers need to see a return on the investments they've made into improving production and finding new uses for the livestock we raise and the crops we grow, including non-food uses for energy. They should not have to defend the prices they receive when the commodity markets work in their favor from meeting these demands of consumers. We can feed America, and we can continue to feed many parts of the world. We can also produce the materials for renewable energy, and do all of this at a price that remains affordable to consumers.
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Source: Wisconsin Farm Bureau

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

DDGs to Mexico On the Rise

Critics of ethanol--especially corn ethanol- like to use scare tactics to sow fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) into the public forum by framing the discussion that corn used for ethanol is diverted from the food supply chain.

The good news is that ethanol process by-products (in this case, DDGs-Dried Distillers Grains) allow the highly-nutritional value of corn to be used for the food market. Corn-based ethanol is not a food OR fuel issue. It's Food AND Fuel.

This week, the US Grains Council released a report that Mexican livestock producers are seeing the benefits associated with using DDGs. Some key points from the report:
  • DDGS, a co-product of ethanol production, are an affordable and efficient feed source for livestock.
  • In 2003, Mexico imported less than 50,000 metric tons of U.S. DDGS, but last year’s total shipment amounted to 438,347 tons
  • U.S. DDGS exports to Mexico had increased by 21,173 tons. Then DDGS exports again increased by 238,971 tons to 428,347 tons in 2006.
  • As of May this year, 327,859 tons have been transported to Mexico
  • As the push for ethanol production persists in the United States, the amount of DDGS for export will increase significantly
  • For every gallon of ethanol that is produced in the United States, nearly 7 pounds of DDGS are derived.
  • For example, a 40 million gallon ethanol plant would have an output of 266 million pounds of DDGS.
balanced food and fuel ethanol DDGs
Source: USGC: Exports of U.S. Ethanol Co-Products to Mexico Skyrocket

Friday, June 22, 2007

What Were They Thinking?: NBC Says Movie Piracy Hurts Corn Farmers

Mark this one in the "silly" category.

NBC has purported to have made an FCC filing in support of tougher internet regulations to combat video piracy. And who does NBC think will benefit from this crackdown on illegal filesharing? Corn Growers!
"In the absence of movie piracy, video retailers would sell and rent more titles. Movie theaters would sell more tickets and popcorn. Corn growers would earn greater profits and buy more farm equipment."
The vast majority of corn grown in this country is "field corn" (also known as "dent" or #2 yellow corn). Field corn is used for food, feed, fiber and now, fuel.

If this report is true, the "suits" in NYC need to come on out to the countryside.


How Much Corn is Actually Represented in Meat Products?

Corn Represented in meat Cattle Food vs Fuel Food versus FuelA recent report by a leading agriculture group looked at the food input costs and came to some easy-to-understand numbers. It's worth reading the entire report (pdf), but here are some useful numbers when discussing the issue:
"Corn is the primary source of carbohydrate energy for livestock and poultry in the United States.

As such, higher corn prices are expected to have some impact on the cost of meat production. Meat producers consistently cite feed grains as the most important inputs in meat production. To gain a better understanding of how much corn is actually represented in meat products, it is interesting to examine the amount of corn required to produce one pound of each respective type of meat (this is commonly referred to as the “feed-to-weight” ratio).
  • There are 56 pounds of corn in a bushel. When corn is $3.50 per bushel, a pound of corn is worth 6.3 cents. At $4.00 per bushel, a pound of corn is worth 7.1 cents.
  • According to the Beef Checkoff, it takes 2.6 pounds of corn to produce one pound of beef, live weight (includes bone, fat, etc.). This equates to 18.6 cents worth of corn when corn is $4.00 per bushel.
  • The National Pork Board says it takes 3.6 pounds of corn to produce one pound of pork, live weight. This equates to 25.7 cents worth of corn when corn is $4.00 per bushel.
  • It takes 2.0 pounds of corn to produce one pound of chicken, live weight, according to the National Chicken Council. This equates to 14.3 cents worth of corn when corn is $4.00 per bushel."
Recently, a hog producer blogged about her own observations on food costs. Read about her HERE.

Source: National Corn Growers Association (pdf)

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API: Senate Bill "Will Do Nothing" (and that's a quote!) ran a long story today regarding the Senate's passage of an energy bill. As you'll recall, the bill will improve car fuel economy standards and increase use of alternative fuels. Those sound like pretty good ideas. Apparently, the majority of US Senators felt so too (for the record, the vote was 65 to 27).

It's worth noting, from the news story, the America Petroleum Institute's response:
"Karen Matusic, a spokeswoman for the American Petroleum Institute, said the Senate bill ``will do nothing to meet our energy challenges going forward, and it will do nothing to increase our supplies of oil and natural gas."


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Senate Votes for Ethanol

The US Senate voted last night, 65-27, to pass an energy bill. Among the key provisions:
  • This bill increased the current 7.5 billion gallon RFS to 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2022, 15 billion gallons from corn-based ethanol.
  • Additionally, this bill included studies on the feasibility of ethanol pipelines, higher blend levels, and the optimization of FFVs.
This is a step in the right direction for US Energy security.

Source: CNN

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

New Technology Makes Fertilizer Less Dangerous

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's recent articles regarding farming contained many inaccurate, misleading and misrepresentations of modern farming and conservation practices. Here is yet another response to the Post-Dispatch.

New technology makes
fertilizer less dangerous

The article "More ethanol, more corn, more fertilizer, more pollution" (June 10, 2007) misrepresents the role fertilizers play in food, fiber, feed and fuel production. While the increase in corn demand for ethanol production is indisputable, the negative consequences of these changes are not. Commercial fertilizers are the most manageable source of nutrients and as such are the best tool farmers have to maximize crop production while minimizing environmental impact.

In fact, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show that U.S. farmers are using fertilizer nutrients with the greatest efficiency in history. Between 1980 and 2005, U.S. corn production increased by 74 percent. Meanwhile, farmers' use of nitrogen on corn over this period increased only 3 percent, while use of phosphate and potash fell 20 and 24 percent, respectively.

Nutrients removed by crops need to be replaced to maintain soil fertility. We strongly support using the right product and applying it at the right rate, right time and right place. Paired with efforts to use advanced fertilizer technologies, farmers indeed can meet our food and energy needs and protect the environment. What's more, we repeatedly have sought Agriculture Department backing for the use of advanced fertilizer technologies in conservation programs, but to date have received little support for encouraging farmer use of these products.

The North American fertilizer industry has a long history of partnering with farmers and the more than 13,000 Certified Crop Advisers to ensure maximum crop productivity, while protecting water quality, soil quality and the environment.

Kathleen Mathers | Washington, D.C.
Vice President of Public Affairs, The Fertilizer Institute

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

balanced food and fuel energy security conservation stewardship

Biofuels Aren't The Problem

You may recall that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran an article critical of Midwest farmers last week which contained misleading and inaccurate information. Here's but one who wrote to the Post-Dispatch to set the record straight:
Biofuels aren't the problem
The article "Dead zone persists as government drags its feet" (June 10) included a drastic picture titled "The Gulf's 'Dead Zone'." But the picture is not from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the agency that measures and maps the hypoxia. The red zones on the official NOAA maps have been shrinking.
I expect this year hypoxia will increase because of an increase in water flowing down the Mississippi River and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers dumping millions and millions of pounds of nitrogen and phosphorus in the river at Arrow Rock, Mo., to create a habitat for the pallid sturgeon. The last few years we have had an increase in biofuel acres with a decrease in hypoxia. So, apparently, biofuels are not the problem.

Bob Perry,
| Bowling Green, Mo.
food and fuel ethanol energy security

Senate Rejects Repeal of Ethanol Tariff

The US Senate today rejected an amendment today, in a vote 56 to 36, to repeal the 54-cent-per-gallon tariff on imported foreign ethanol according to various media reports.

CQ reported one of the reasons why senators voted to continue the tariff on imported foreign ethanol (quoting Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa):
“We’re already dependent upon foreign oil, so we don’t want our country to get on the path of eventually becoming dependent upon foreign ethanol as well. Providing yet more duty-free treatment would be a step in the wrong direction,” Grassley said.
The Senate should be commended for their majority support of the American-made fuel.

America's energy security needs a vibrant domestic alternative fuel industry. Allowing Brazilian-subsidized fuel into America to destroy the domestic industry will limit our ability to become energy independent. The tariff also helps to offset the 51 cent per gallon credit used to encourage petroleum blenders to introduce ethanol into the American fuel supply.

balanced food and fuel ethanol energy security

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Corn Growers Know Smart Farming Means Clean Water

Recently, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran an article highly critical of farmers. Filled with sensational headlines but short on real facts. Below is a response from one of those farmers who was interviewed.

Letter to the Editor, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
, 06/19/200
Corn growers know smart farming means clean water

I am one of the farmers who was interviewed by Bill Lambrecht for his story "More ethanol, more corn, more fertilizer, more pollution " (June 10) on ethanol and corn production. We spent a lot of time talking about the environmental benefits of new technologies and the way we farm today. I am extremely disappointed that it was all lost in the article.

Today, using conservation tillage, we leave more residue on the surface of the soil to protect it from wind and water erosion. I am building organic matter on my corn acres because of the plant material left in the field.

Facts show the dramatic reduction in inputs, including nitrogen, needed to grow a bushel of corn. Farmers have developed buffer and filter strips and use best management practices in field operations. The water in our rivers and lakes are cleaner because of this.

We have cut our fuel use per bushel of corn as well. We use half the fuel per bushel we did 10 years ago, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

Corn technology has helped me make my farm a better farm. My son and I represent six generations of farmers working this soil, and we are leaving the farm in better condition than we found it.

It is good to spend our energy dollars in the United States, and it starts right here in rural America. The other choice is to continue to send huge amounts of money to buy energy from hostile places. What is the cost of stationing the 6th Fleet and our soldiers in the Middle East?

We have opportunities to lower our dependence on foreign oil, and we need to pursue them as fast as we can. Corn to ethanol is not the complete answer but is the first step, and it is here now.

Leon Corzine
| Assumption, Ill.

balanced food and fuel energy security ethanol

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Maybe as Easy as ABC?

Press reports today report that there's another new organization promoting alternative fuels.

American Biofuels Council Founded to Encourage Increased Use of Biofuels as Major Alternative Energy Source Among Consumers, Enterprises and Local Governments

'ABC' Aims to Point the Way, Showing Consumers, Enterprises and Local Governments How to Effectively Transition to Biofuels to Help Reduce Dependency on Foreign Oil, Lessen Effects of Greenhouse Gases on Global Warming, Create New Jobs and Reduce the Trade Deficit

ABC lays out several reasons why alternative fuels should be embraced:

  1. Energy Security. By producing fuel domestically we reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
  2. Reduced Emissions. Since biofuels are nearly carbon neutral they contribute very little greenhouse gases to global warming. Biofuels also reduce other harmful emissions dramatically.
  3. Economic. Producing our own fuel creates jobs and helps reduce our trade deficit by keeping our fuel buying dollars here at home.
  4. Sustainability. Since biofuels are produced from various sources of biomass the supply is almost limitless.

Source: American Biofuels Council

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Gasoline Refinery Expansions Scaled Back

One would think after the record profits last year in the Big Oil Industry, there would be money and justification for expanding gasoline refinery capacity in the United States. Apparently, NOT.

The Washington Post, among others, is reporting today that refinery expansion is being scaled back. But a new refinery has not been built in over 30 years.
Only last year, the Energy Department was told that refiners, reaping big profits and anticipating growing demand, were looking at boosting their refining capacity by 1.6 million barrels a day, a roughly 10 percent increase.
"By creating a situation of extremely tight supply, the oil companies gain control over price at the wholesale level," says Mark Cooper of the Consumer Federation of America. He argues the refining industry "has no interest in creating spare (refining) capacity."
So there you have it, take the profits and run.


Saturday, June 16, 2007

California Chooses Wisely with Ethanol

Good News for Californians!

Media story today reports that Gasoline sold in the Golden State will include up to 10 percent ethanol. California air managers decided Thursday, a move the renewable fuels industry says will shift the burgeoning ethanol market into high gear.
"All California refineries making gas sold in the state will have to blend 10 percent ethanol into their gas to meet new fuel standards set by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger starting Dec. 31, 2009, under the resolution adopted by the California Air Resources Board."
California will now know what millions of other drivers across the country now know, that Ethanol provides a clean, renewable fuel.

Read more information HERE.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Senate Energy Bill Provides Platform for Growth of U.S. Ethanol Industry

Grainnet reports:
Washington, DC –- Joining Senate leaders in the Mansfield Room of the U.S. Capitol on June 15, Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen praised the energy legislation being debated on the floor of the Senate.

The bill would increase the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) to 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels, the majority of which must be next generation renewable fuels like cellulosic ethanol.

How Much Corn is in Those Flakes?

Corn growers in Ohio rallied recently to get the word out on the true cost impact of rising corn prices. In this media report, there were a number of startling facts concerning the true impact on food costs.

"Only 3 cents of corn goes into a box of cereal," "But the cost of a box of corn flakes is so high because of marketing and transportation costs. Same with a bag of corn chips."

Corn prices are up about 33 percent from where they were a year ago, but the impact of that price rise is a much smaller part of food cost increases than is being reported

"Plain and simple, corn prices are not the sole reason, or even the major reason for higher prices in the grocery aisle today,"

"Corn is part of a portion of food products," ... "And it is only a small part of those foods where it is included. A large portion of food price increases come from foods that don't contain corn including fish, fruits and vegetables."


balanced food and fuel ethanol energy security corn

Big Oil Is Worried that America Has a Choice

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries… better known as OPEC… is starting to feel the heat of the increased use of biofuels. And the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition is asking your help to keep them on the ropes.

NEVC wants you to get involved:

The European Union and nations around the world are looking at biofuels, made from plant and animal matter, to boost energy security, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and open new markets for farmers.

“We have great concerns about this … about policies which discriminate against oil,” Fuad Siala, alternative energy sources analyst at the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, said at a Hart energy conference in Brussels.

“We have legitimate concerns to revisit our investment plans,” he said.

The NEVC says you can help by talking to your U.S. Senator about how E-85 will help this country shake the yoke of foreign oil:

1. Send an email message to your Senators. Click here, edit the sample letter we have written for you, fill in your contact information, then click “Send My Message!”

2. Call your Senators. Express your support for E85 by calling the Senate switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or by looking up the number for your Senators’ offices by clicking here. Emphasize the following points with the staffer:

* With gasoline prices so high, promoting E85 will save consumers money.
* Using domestically-produced E85 reduces our dependence on foreign oil and helps the U.S. economy.

3. Tell a friend. Forward this information (use the link below) to your friends, colleagues, and others that have an interest in promoting E85 and ask that they too send a note to their Senators. The success of our campaign depends on getting as many people as possible to contact their Senators!

Energy Prices Play Larger Role in Cost of Food than Corn

high oil costs food vs fuel ethanol E85 E10 foreign oil
Energy Prices Play Larger Role in Cost of Food than Corn

A study released today by an independent research group shows that ethanol’s impact on food prices is negligible, particularly when compared with the impact of energy costs.

The study by John Urbanchuk of LECG, LLC shows that a $1 per gallon increase in the price of gasoline results in an increase in food prices that is twice as high as a $1 increase in the price a bushel of corn.

The study also showed that distiller’s grains, a byproduct of ethanol production and a high quality livestock feed, help put downward pressure on food prices as livestock farmers purchase the grains instead of corn.

The full version of the LECG report (PDF) can be viewed at

UPDATE 6/1/2015: Full link to the PDF report has been updated.


Food and Fuel
Good and Balanced Food and Fuel News!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Profit$: The Green Pork Product!

Smithfield Foods Earnings Rise in Fiscal 4Q
Meat producer Smithfield Foods Inc. said Thursday its fourth-quarter profit rose sharply, as rising pork and beef sales offset the higher cost of grain to feed its hogs.

Profit totaled $37 million, or 33 cents per share, for the quarter ended April 29, compared with $1.1 million, or a penny per share in the same period last year.

Source: YAHOO News

Ethanol is Environmentally Friendly

Ethanol is an environmentally friendly fuel for America. Does YOUR gasoline do that?

The use of ethanol as a fuel additive improves the environment because its high level of oxygen increases the efficiency of the combustion process, resulting in lower emissions and higher air quality.
  • The American Lung Association of Metropolitan Chicago credits ethanol-blended, reformulated gasoline with reducing smog-forming emissions by 25% since 1990.
  • Ethanol reduces tailpipe carbon monoxide emissions by as much as 30%.
  • Ethanol reduces exhaust VOC emissions by 12%.
  • Ethanol reduces toxic emissions by 30%.
  • Ethanol reduces particulate emissions, especially fine-particulates that pose a health threat to children, senior citizens, and those with respiratory ailments.
  • Ethanol is widely used in the federal winter oxygenated fuels program and the reformulated gasoline (RFG) program in cities that exceed public health standards for carbon monoxide and ozone pollution.
  • Ethanol reduces carbon dioxide greenhouse gases by over 35% compared to gasoline.
  • If all the gasoline in California were blended with ten percent ethanol today, the state would reduce CO2 emissions by 6.4 million tons per year compared to straight gasoline.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Oh Really? "Corn growers seen limiting cellulosic ethanol"

It's amazing what passes for credible scientific news nowadays. Take for example this article from Scientific American, "Corn growers seen limiting cellulosic ethanol", dated June 12, 2007. [note: the SM article appears dead but Reuters still has it HERE] Now the story originated from that fine news source, Reuters, so perhaps we should be kind to Scientific American. But in any event, you should ask yourself, "What facts and sources did the reporter and editor use to make the sensational claim?" It's certainly not in this article. Instead it's the "opinion" of one professor. News indeed!

"It's hard to imagine growers have spent 25 years nurturing members of Congress to support tariffs and blenders credits... in order to give this game away to grass," C. Ford Runge, an economics professor at the University of Minnesota, told reporters at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

"We are going to have to find reasons to tell people to plant switchgrass and not corn," said Runge. "As long as we have the structure of corn subsidies and ethanol subsidies that's driving demand for corn-based ethanol, that's not going to happen."

Monday, June 11, 2007

FFV Sales Take Off!

Recent reports indicate that Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) sales are taking off. These vehicles, which run on gasoline, E85 or a mixture of the two, give American drivers a choice when filling up at the pump.
A record number of alternative-fuel vehicles were sold during the first quarter of this year, according to data from R.L. Polk. Company executives said the sale of alternative-fuel vehicles jumped 27 percent during the first quarter.

“There is little doubt that higher gasoline prices (and conversely competitive E85 pricing); more vehicle selection, more E85 pumps, and the attraction of having options when you pull up to the tank are all driving this flex fuel growth. Educational outreach programs from the Illinois Corn Marketing Board (ICMB) along with better marketing by car makers are all having an affect, said Wendell Shauman, ICMB chairman of Kirkwood.

That increase resulted in a total of more than 434,000 of those units being sold in the quarter. Polk reported that sales of E-85 ethanol vehicles spiked by 40 percent during the period, as compared with the same time frame a year ago. The figure for those units rose from 159,992 to 266,859. Sales of hybrid vehicles climbed 31 percent, going from 51,285 to 74,056, according to Polk.

“This success makes it all the more imperative that we keep working to make E85 availability a priority. There is little doubt that consumers are price driven, but E85 must be accessible as well. Consumers want competitive pricing and convenience,” Shauman said.”

It is interesting to note that that sales of clean diesel units slipped from 108,100 during the first quarter of 2006 to 93,012 for the same time frame this year. Officials went on to point out that more than 60 different alternative-fuel vehicles are currently are on the market. Additionally, more hybrid-electric, clean diesel and ethanol capable models also are in development.

balanced food and fuel ethanol energy security ffv

Source: Illinois Corn Marketing Board,


Did You Know?

In 2006, the use of ethanol in the U.S. reduced greenhouse gas emissions, equal to removing the annual emissions of 1.8 million cars.?

USDA DOE Announce Investments in Energy Security

It's worthy to note that the US Government--in this case the Department of Agriculture AND the Department of Energy are working together to promote "greater energy security through increased efficiency and diversification of energy sources."

Monday, June 11, 2007



WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced a combined total of up to $18 million will be available for research and development of biomass-based products, biofuels, bioenergy and related processes. USDA and DOE are issuing these grant solicitations for several types of projects aimed at increasing the availability of alternative and renewable fuels, which will help further President Bush’s bold energy initiatives, including Twenty in Ten. The Twenty in Ten Initiative promotes greater energy security through increased efficiency and diversification of energy sources. USDA will provide up to $14 million and DOE will provide up to $4 million (FY’07).

“Making these funds available represents this Administration’s ongoing commitment to promoting clean energy technologies to help diversify our nation’s energy mix in an environmentally sensitive way,” Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said. “I am hopeful that these projects will play a critical role in furthering our knowledge of how we can cost effectively produce more homegrown, bio-based products to help reduce our reliance on imported sources of energy.”

“These grants are one of many steps we are taking to meet the President’s goals of reducing petroleum dependency,” Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said from South Dakota, where he was addressing the Western Governor’s Association. “They will fund essential research that not only will lead to the creation of new, sustainable energy sources, but also will create new uses and markets for agricultural products.”

The $18 million solicitation will fund projects in the following four categories (the share of overall funding is noted in parenthesis): the development of technologies to convert cellulosic biomass into intermediaries for biobased fuels (45 percent); product diversification (30 percent); feedstock production (20 percent); and analysis for strategic guidance (5 percent)

Johanns cited how research and development (R&D) efforts outlined in past grant awards could develop technology that support the goals of the President’s 20 in 10 Initiative. In Indiana and Illinois, researchers from both the pubic and private sector are working to improve dry mill fractionation. The goal is to increase ethanol production from corn and, as a by-product of that, to produce protein additives for cattle feed. It is anticipated that ethanol production estimates could increase significantly if this research is successful and implemented within the dry mill fractionation process. When this technology is implemented, energy savings annually are estimated at about 1,500 billion BTU's per dry mill. In addition, penetration at a level of 70% of the dry mills with this technology could produce an additional 1.2 billion gallons of ethanol from corn and an additional production of 130 million barrels of biodiesel

Reducing our reliance imported sources of energy is one of President Bush’s top priorities. In effort to break our addiction to oil, the President’s Farm Bill proposal includes $1.6 billion in new renewable energy funding for USDA. It seeks $500 million over 10 years to expand the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Program, $500 million for bioenergy and biobased research, and $210 million to support $2.1 billion in loan guarantees for energy efficiency measures, with a significant focus on cellulosic ethanol. Since 2002, USDA has awarded $58.1 million in grants to 55 projects in 27 states and the District of Columbia under the Biomass Research and Development Initiative. Since the beginning of 2007, DOE has announced nearly $1 billion in funding for biofuels R&D.

For more information on President Bush’s Twenty in Ten Initiative, visit: