U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack.

U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says two new research reports show the production of ethanol has become much more efficient.

He says the reports address one of his top concerns in the debate over the corn-based fuel. “Some of those folks who oppose ethanol are using outdated information, suggesting that it takes more energy to produce ethanol than the energy that ethanol provides and the reality is that’s just not accurate,” Vilsack said.

One study was conducted by the USDA on the “energy balance” of corn ethanol. The other study was by the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri.

“What we found is our corn growers are basically more efficient than they’ve ever been in terms of what they use, in terms of inputs,” Vilsack said. “Our ethanol producers are more efficient than they’ve ever been. So, every unit of energy that’s used to produce ethanol and the co-products and byproducts basically produces about 2.3 units of energy.”

Vilsack says the research shows the ethanol industry is improving and expanding.

Iowa has 43 ethanol plants and leads the nation in production, making about 27-percent of the country’s ethanol in 2015. The state produced a record 4 billion gallons of ethanol last year, according to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.

(Reporting by Julie Harker, Brownfield Ag News)