While some livestock organizations have called for suspending the Renewable Fuel Standards and the production of ethanol fearing tight corn supplies, rising prices and the ongoing drought, many other local cattle producers have become concerned that any waiver would curtail the availability of the popular and high-protein feed supplement which is a valuable byproduct of ethanol, dried distillers grains and wet distillers grains.
Even before rising corn prices slowed production of ethanol and allowed routine annual plant maintenance, members of the Association of Nebraska Ethanol Producers reached out for a dialogue and conducted local tours, offering presentations to and gathering input from one of their most important customers, cattle feeders.
Contrary to and not entirely surprisingly, local cattle feeders were overwhelmingly in favor of keeping the RFS and supporting the continued production of ethanol.
According to Chuck Woodside, CEO of farmer-owned KAAPA Ethanol in Minden, and chairman of the Renewable Fuels Association, in his area wet distillers grains are a highly sought and highly valuable feed ingredient that allows cattle feeders to maximize inclusion of lower-cost forage sources, such as corn stalks.
All politics is local. State and national livestock organizations should check their own backyard and clearly understand the ramifications to their members in supporting poorly thought out policy.
Cattlemen realize that while the ethanol industry competes for area-grown corn, they also understand that 75 percent to 80 percent of each bushel comes back to them in the form of affordable and highly digestible DDGs.
Distillers grains are high in protein, oil content and energy that adds to the efficient finishing of feeder cattle. Getting these animals to gain weight faster and to market earlier increases feeder efficiencies and saves consumers money at the grocery store.
The Association of Nebraska Ethanol Producers will continue to work with ethanol producers and livestock producers to promote a strong agricultural economy that benefits both livestock and grain producers.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The authors are with the Association of Nebraska Ethanol Producers headquartered in Lincoln.