December 16, 2011

Ethanol fueling Nebraska’s economy, nation’s energy future

Our nation’s dangerous and expensive dependence on imported oil is at the root of many challenges such as national security, economic distress and environmental concerns, said David Nielsen, a farmer from Lincoln and member of the Nebraska Corn Board.

“On top of that, America spends more than $1 billion each and every day on imported oil,” Nielsen said. “That’s money headed out of this country that could be invested right here at home. We need a solution, and ethanol is playing an important role.”

Ethanol provides a domestic, renewable source of clean-burning fuel that provides a market for Nebraska corn, creates local jobs and generates millions in tax revenues.

Of course, ethanol plants aren’t using corn niblets to make ethanol.

More than 99 percent of the corn grown in the U.S. is field corn, not the sweet corn humans eat. Field corn is typically fed to livestock or transformed into ethanol and its co-products such as animal feed and food ingredients. “We’re not turning food into fuel,” Nielsen said. “We’re actually turning corn into fuel, feed and food.”

He explained that ethanol production uses only the starch in the corn kernel. The rest of the kernel, including fiber and protein, then becomes a high value livestock feed called distillers grains, which is widely used in livestock production.

Corn used to be fed in its raw form to livestock, and it still is in many cases.

Over time, however, livestock producers have increased the ratio of distillers grains in rations with significant positive results. “Distillers grains have become a preferred feed across the U.S.,” Nielsen said. “It helps create delicious red meat, poultry and dairy products enjoyed all over the world.”

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