Understanding Ethanol Byproducts
NDSU Animal and Range Sciences Department
The ethanol industry is growing rapidly as demand for renewable fuels increases. This trend is especially noticeable in the northern and western areas of the Corn Belt (Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and South Dakota). Consequently, availability of byproducts from ethanol production is increasing as well.
In general, most grain or oilseed processing is intended to extract either starch or oil. In ethanol production, the goal is to turn corn starch into fuel grade alcohol (ethanol). Knowing what the processor wants to extract is the first step in understanding what the resulting byproduct should consist of from a nutritional standpoint. In most cases, processors are extracting starch or oil and the remaining materials (generally fiber, protein and minerals) are usually more concentrated in the byproduct than they are in the original grain or oilseed.
Distiller’s grains are byproducts of the corn dry milling industry. As the name implies, corn is dry milled or hammer milled prior to the addition of water. The proper name for this byproduct in the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) handbook is corn distiller’s dried grains plus solubles, but in most cases, it is simply referred to as dried distiller’s grains or distiller’s grains. Corn is by far the most common cereal grain feedstock used in ethanol production. It is important to note that plants that use wheat, barley or other cereal grains will produce different byproducts.
In the ethanol production process, corn is ground, mixed with yeast and enzymes, and the resulting fermentation process produces ethanol from the corn starch. The mixture is distilled to remove the ethanol. The remaining mixture is centrifuged to separate the mash from the solubles. Some of the moisture in the remaining liquid byproduct is removed by heating to create condensed distiller’s solubles. This is added back to the mash to produce distiller’s grains plus solubles. This product can then be marketed as a wet byproduct (wet distiller’s grain plus solubles — generally referred to as wet distiller’s grains) or it can be dried to produce dried distiller’s grains plus solubles. This byproduct contains unfermented corn proteins, corn oil, spent yeast cells, fermentation byproducts and some soluble proteins that result from the fermentation process.
Dried distiller’s grains can be difficult to pellet due to fat content. Distiller’s grains also contain high levels of phosphorus and sulfur. When fed to cattle, high sulfur levels can cause polioencephalomalacia (commonly called ‘polio’) and high phosphorus levels can pose manure management challenges. Nevertheless, distiller’s grains can be incorporated into a wide variety of beef cattle diets. For more information, download the Ethanol Coproduct Fact Sheet PDF.
Cattlemen on Capitol Hill
More than 400 cattle producers from across the country have been in Washington, D.C., this week for the cattle industry’s 2006 Spring Legislative Conference on Capitol Hill, March 27-31.
Members of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and Public Lands Council (PLC) are meeting with members of Congress and key agency officials on a host of cattle industry priority issues including: tax reform, property rights, environmental law, food safety regulations and animal health issues.
“This is our most important meeting of the year dealing with policy issues,” says Mike John, Missouri cattleman and NCBA president. “It’s important for our nation’s ranchers to participate in the political process and communicate to our policymakers about what’s important to them. These officials value our feedback and we appreciate them taking time out of their busy schedules to connect with the cattlemen from their home states.”
Farm Bill Forum Summaries Available Online
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has completed a summary of the public comments submitted verbally and in writing during USDA's Farm Bill Forum listening tour. The summaries will serve as a basis for USDA policy review and analysis in preparation for the 2007 farm bill.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns says that the next step for USDA in preparing for the 2007 farm bill is to glean from these summary documents a number of themes that warrant further analysis. The analysis of each theme will be led by USDA Chief Economist Keith Collins.
The summary papers announced March 29 are available on the USDA Web site.
$8.1 Million Designated for Texas Wildfire Recovery
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced on March 24 that producers in 16 Texas counties affected by wildfires will be eligible to receive $8.134 million in Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) funds.
The 16 eligible Texas counties are: Carson, Collingsworth, Cooke, Donley, Gray, Hartley, Hemphill, Hood, Hutchinson, Oldham, Parker, Potter, Roberts, Somervell, Tom Green and Wheeler.
Earlier this month, Texas received $2 million in ECP funds for wildfires that burned from late December through early January. Oklahoma also received $1.6 million for wildfire recovery.
ECP provides funding for producers to remove debris from farmland, restore fences and conservation structures, provide water for livestock, and grade and shape farmland damaged by natural disasters. Eligible producers receive cost-share assistance of up to 75% of the cost of approved practices, as determined by Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committees. More information on ECP wildfire assistance is available at local Texas FSA offices and on the USDA, FSA Disaster Assistance Web site.
U.S. Beef Celebrated in Taiwan
Guests enjoyed an array of international cuisines at a U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) reception in Taipei, Taiwan, on March 24. Dishes varied in flavor and aroma, but had one welcome element among them: U.S. beef.
The reception, sponsored by the Texas Beef Council, was held outside in the gardens of the Agora Garden Hotel inTaipei.More than 150 guests from the Taiwan food industry attended.
The versatility of U.S. beef was highlighted in Texas-style dishes, along with Chinese hot pot, Taiwanese stir-fry and Japanese barbecue.“We wanted to remind the industry of the variety of ways to prepare U.S. beef using different cuts and cooking methods,” says Davis Wu, USMEF Taiwan director. “The ribeyes prepared Texas-style provided an original taste of U.S. beef, while the other regional preparations demonstrated how popular local dishes can be enhanced by U.S. beef.”
Shipments of U.S. beef started arriving in Taiwan about a month ago. They were the first since June, when Taiwan banned U.S. beef after the announcement of a second case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
U.S. beef is now becoming widely available in Taiwan retail stores. Costco’s flagship Neihu store in Taipei, one of the top single sales outlets for U.S. beef in all of Asia, has fully restocked its beef cases with a wide variety of U.S. beef including steak cuts, top blade muscle, rib finger, heel muscle and boneless short ribs.
BSE Cases Declining Worldwide
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) cases are declining worldwide, according to a report released March 24 by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. The American Meat Institute outlines the following report highlights:
- The rate of reported cases has dropped 50% each year over the past three years.
- In 2005, 474 animals died of BSE around the world, compared with 878 in 2004 and 1,646 in 2003, compared with several tens of thousands in 1992 according to data collected by the World Animal Health Organization (OIE).
For more information, visit the AMI Web site.
Creekstone Sues USDA over BSE Testing
Creekstone Farms® Premium Beef LLC has sued USDA for refusing to allow the company to voluntarily test cattle for BSE at its Arkansas City, Kan., facility.
Creekstone is challenging USDA’s claim that it has the legal authority to control access to and the use of the “test kits” needed to perform BSE testing.
AMIF Testifies Against Proposed Chicago Ban
The American Meat Institute Foundation (AMIF) has testified in Chicago on a proposed city ordinance to ban the sale of meat packaged with minute amounts of carbon monoxide.
At a March 23 hearing, Vice President of Scientific Affairs Randy Huffman said, “The innovative technology that has been unfairly maligned in the media and now in the halls of the Chicago City Council is a technology that allows meat processors to use minute amounts of carbon monoxide in low-oxygen (LOW-OX-CO) modified atmosphere packaging. The use of LOW-OX-CO packaging provides a multitude of benefits to industry, retailers and consumers, and is another important packaging option in the evolution of the retail meat case of the 21st century.”
To read Huffman’s complete testimony, download the AMIF Chicago Ban Testimony PDF.