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Corn+Soybean Digest

USDA Says Ethanol Is Efficient To Produce

A USDA report confirms what the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) has been saying all along - that ethanol is efficient to produce and should play a positive role in reducing U.S. dependence on imported oil.

The report concludes that the net energy value of corn ethanol has become positive in recent years due to technological advances in ethanol conversion and increased efficiency in farm production.

"Critics of ethanol production should take note of the fact that USDA itself has found that ethanol produces much more energy than it consumes when compared to other products such as petroleum," says NCGA President Tim Hume. "Moreover, the USDA report supports NCGA's claims that ethanol production uses abundant domestic supplies of energy to convert corn into a premium liquid fuel that can displace petroleum imports."

The report, "The Energy Balance of Corn Ethanol: An Update," published by USDA's Office of the Chief Economist, concludes that ethanol production is energy efficient because it yields 34% more energy than issued in growing and harvesting the corn and distilling it into ethanol."

"Ethanol has come under considerable attack in recent months, and many of the critics have quoted inaccurate, outdated data from a Cornell University researcher who claimed ethanol production consumes more energy than it produces," says Hume, a grower from Walsh, CO.

"In its report, the USDA says studies using older data tend to overestimate energy use because the efficiency of growing corn and converting it to ethanol has improved significantly over the past 20 years."

The report notes that today's higher corn yields, lower energy use per unit of output in the fertilizer industry and advances in fuel conversion technologies have greatly enhanced the economic and technical feasibility of producing ethanol.

"The USDA report also illustrates the need for a renewable fuel standard (RFS)," Hume concludes. "Agriculture consumes and produces energy; and energy legislation is critically important to American agriculture. We need stable energy markets and we need enhanced economic opportunities in rural America, and the RFS contained in the Senate bill currently in conference provides both of those. Again, we urge passage by the Congress."

For the complete report, click on the link on the NCGA web site,

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