When Illinois Corn Growers President Gary Hudson testified to the City Council of Chicago Committee on Finance about E15, he took several questions based on the so-called food versus fuel debate. Those questions prompted Gary to write the following article on his www.WhatDoesAFarmerDo.com blog.
Once upon a time on a farm in Illinois, there was a jovial farmer named Paul. Paul was a creative and innovative man responsible for ensuring that the corn harvested on his family farm was dry and high in quality as it entered the storage bins. “More Corn. More Corn,” would bellow out of Paul’s mouth day and night.
Paul had a generous son named Tom. Tom’s task was to operate the combine which removed the ears of corn from the stalk and shelled the kernels from the cob. Tom enjoyed picking corn while watching the fruits of the family’s yearlong efforts fill the combine’s hopper. One day Tom took a wife named Abby.
Abby inherited the most difficult job on the farm. Abby drove the truck that hauled the grain from Tom’s combine to Paul’s dryer. When Abby arrived in the field, she would find Tom waiting with corn dribbling down the sides of the combine because she had not gotten there soon enough. Tom and Abby did not talk during these days because “there just was no time for that”. Tom would give Abbyhand signals pointing to where he wanted the truck so he could fill it. When he had corn running off the sides of the truck he would simply wave at Abby. She understood that she was dismissed to haul the load to Paul.
Abby would drive the truck (much too slowly for her husband and father-in-law) to the drying facility. Paul would open the tailgate and wave for Abby to raise the bed to dump the grain. Once the grain was drained, Paul would slam the tailgate closed and yell, “More Corn. More Corn.” She understood that this was her queue to hightail it back to the field before Tom was sitting and waiting for her again. Oh, how she wanted to stop this time to use the potty or grab a drink, but there just wasn’t time for such nonsense. As long as the truck continued to show up at each end of the route, everyone lived happily ever after.
Abby rejoiced the day that the local railroad was closed. Those doggone trains had caused her so much grief at both ends of her route. Have you ever counted the cars in the train while waiting for a train to get out of your way? A train filled with grain typically has 100 cars. These trains can haul 440,000 bushels in those 100 cars.
This year American farmers will grow “More Corn” than we can eat, feed, grind, ship, roast, ferment, or anything else you might want to do with corn. We will produce 32,000 train loads in 2014. We have nearly 2,600 train loads left over from last year. By this time next year we will still have 4,100 trains ready to leave the station when the cows moo or the rooster crows.
This corn, FIELD CORN, will go to a variety of users. Before we divvy this field corn up we need to be clear that field corn does not include the corn that we eat off the cob or out of the can. There are 200 additional trains full of SWEET CORN that humans consume from the cob or the can. There are also a few trains of popcorn, and I am not sure how many trains contain candy corn.
Of the 32,000 train loads of field corn produced, 12,000 will be consumed by cows, hogs, chickens and turkeys oh my! 3,000 trains, loaded with specially selected varieties, will be headed to taco and cereal mills or breweries and soda manufacturers for sweetener and other food processors as well as industrial uses like cleaners, plastics, adhesives and other manufactured products and seed for next year’s crop.
Another 11,500 trains will be headed to bio-refineries to produce a low cost, clean burning motor fuel called ethanol. These bio-refineries are magical because they squeeze the sugars and starches out of the corn to produce the motor fuel while creating a lean, high protein animal feed called gluten. If the gluten feed is dried it becomes dried distillers’ grain.
Of the remaining trains 4,000 will head to the rivers, the Gulf of Mexico, and the coasts to be loaded on ships and exported to the rest of the world. There will be 1,500 trains left over to add to last year’s 2,600 left over trains.
Thomas the train is chomping at the bit to get out of the station and deliver the extra corn where it can be used. We could double our exports if the rest of the world would find a way to convert the corn to human food. Or, we could add one third more ethanol to the motor fuel market if motorists would decide to purchase higher blends of ethanol to save a few bucks. Hit the SHARE button below and tell your friends that we need to help feed the world and fuel America. Stay tuned for scenes.
Next week on WhatDoesAFarmerDo? The Farmer will introduce us to a wide variety of corn species and explain the identity preserve programs. Be sure to tune in next week “same farm time same farm channel.”