Should we use food grains to create gasoline?

As someone who grew up in the farming community (dairyman’s son), I have a passing acquaintance with some of the agricultural issues of the day. Thus I have heard the talk, back and forth, about the pros and cons of using ethanol from grain as an energy source.

Which is why I found this video from the Peterson Farm Bros an interesting take on the process.

One of the chief complaints made about ethanol is that it is creating food scarcity by using food for fuel. In their video, the Petersons make the case that it actually benefits both the food supply and the fuel supply.

Ethanol is created by the fermentation of sugars. Most of those sugars are gotten from various grain crops. The demand for ethanol increases the demand for the crops it is made from. This increases the price of those crops, making them more profitable for the farmers to grow.

But besides benefiting crop farmers, it also benefits livestock farmers. Livestock farmers use the byproducts of the ethanol process, called DDGs. I looked up the definition:

Distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) are the nutrient rich co-product of dry-milled ethanol production. Its utilization as a feed ingredient is well documented as both an energy and a protein supplement.

How does this work? The ethanol plant uses the starch from the plants to create the energy in the fuel for cars and other vehicles. The livestock farmers use the protein from the plants, now concentrated in the DDGS, to supplement the feed they are giving their livestock.

This cycling of the byproducts back into livestock production efficiently ensures that all parts of the plant are used, and nothing wasted, by the production of ethanol.

Besides the benefit to farmers, it also benefits consumers. It reduces dependency on foreign oil and is a renewable  sustainable energy source. It does not take food away from people or livestock

 

 

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