Letter to Secretary Vilsack on USDA Corn Demand Reporting

Dear Secretary Vilsack:

As the price of corn rises due to a number of environmental and societal factors, opponents of domestically produced biofuels have once again begun to engage in the unfounded “food vs. fuel” attacks that have harmed the industry over the past several years.

Indirectly contributing to the problem is the fact that the US Department of Agriculture provides the monthly “corn demand for ethanol” without specifying that some of that corn is used for ethanol production, while more than one-third is resold as dried distillers grains. In doing so, the USDA is not accurately presenting the amount of corn that is converted directly into ethanol, but rather inflating the amount by including co-products in the overall demand figures.

If the ethanol industry it to continue to fight “food vs. fuel” claims, it is imperative that we articulate the entirety of the ethanol production process, which includes not just the production of fuel, but high-quality animal feed and other co-products as well. By altering its reporting methods, the USDA would be able to provide a more accurate portrayal of corn demand for ethanol and eliminate one false route of attack for those who are anti-ethanol.

In Wisconsin, our plants combined produce more than 500 million gallons of ethanol per year, contributing billions of dollars to our state economy and employing thousands of people across the state. Throughout your time as Governor of Iowa and as Agriculture Secretary, you have been an outspoken advocate of ethanol and the biofuel industry in general, and we thank you for your continued support.

We hope that you will consider revising USDA reporting methods and helping us counter the false claims that ethanol forces us to sacrifice food for fuel, and we look forward to working with you in the coming years to continue growing our industry across the country.


Western Wisconsin Energy
Didion Ethanol
Ace Ethanol
Badger State Ethanol
Marquis Energy

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  • Oringted

    I believe the distillers grains are the by-produce of the ethanol process and the plants would not exist if there was no ethanol produced. Reducing the amount of corn used to produce ethanol by the weight or volumn of a saleable byproduct is just trying to hide the true useage. This idea is like a lumberman saying, “We didn't use a whole tree to make that board lumber. We only used part of it. The rest was bark and sawdust we sold for mulch”