Iowa’s taken the number-one spot in the nation in ethanol production, and set records for sales as well. Larry Beyer (BYE’-ur) is a Marengo corn farmer and heads the marketing committee for the Corn Promotion Board. He says among the new records is a high for sales of ethanol-blend gasoline, which hit a 65-percent market share last year. In the month of December, almost 70-percent of the gas sold in Iowa was ethanol blend, another record. It’s proven a good market for corn grown in Iowa, with the ethanol industry producing more than 860-million gallons…and using about 320-Million bushels of corn a year. It’s also “a darn good product,” he says, and thinks consumers like the quality, want to clean up the environment, and want to use a renewable fuel. There are half-a-dozen new ethanol plants in the state slated to begin production this year, and Beyer says that’ll push ethanol production over a billion gallons a year. He doesn’t expect to see any dip in demand for the corn-alcohol fuel. Because of some legislation to require the use of renewable fuels, and as prices for crude-oil go up it also makes ethanol more valuable. Is the corn used for ethanol taking food out of the market? Beyer says corn doesn’t make up a very large part of our human food menu. One of the byproducts of ethanol production is “distiller’s grain,” which it turns out is an excellent livestock feed, considered by some better than plain corn, and long an ingredient in animal food. Beyer says the corn promotion board was concerned about how so many ethanol plants would dispose of the leftover grain from their distilling process, but have found a good market for that distiller’s grain. To answer concerns about ethanol fuel in cars, the corn promotion board also offers technical expertise to auto dealers and mechanics, and has an informational program for drivers-ed classes as well as automotive students at Iowa’s community colleges.
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