Ethanol Production Ramps Up In Mitchell County

As The Albany Herald is reporting:

In Camilla, where First United Ethanol LLC is set to go online in October producing 100 million gallons of ethanol a year, FUEL will make ethanol from corn — not cellulose, peanuts or switchgrass, also known as hay, [CEO Murray Campbell] said.

That’s swell and all, but considering the fact that increased ethanol use drains the supply of corn, won’t that simply serve to inflate food costs? According to one, that’s not so:

Generally, corn is “not a human food product,” and its move from cattle and chicken feed into fuel production is driving food prices up by only about 2-3 percent, [CEO Murray Campbell] said.

14 comments

  1. Doug Deal says:

    All corn that isn’t made into ethanol is turned into human food, one way or another.

    I used to work for the third largest chicken processor, and the most expensive single item for raising chickens is feed. Feed is made out of several things, some being ground up animal parts, but the majority is made out of corn. It is such a large portion of the cost, there is a measure of efficiency called “feed conversion”. Or how many pounds of meat is produced per pound of feed.

    Cows and pigs are also raised on corn.

    No matter what kind of corn it is, if it is used in ethanol production, it will drive up demand and increase the price. Also, with high profits converting farm land from human food to ethanol, there will be less supply of other crops, also raising prices.

    Ethanol is a horrible product for so many reasons. Remove the subsidies and see how long it lasts.

  2. Icarus says:

    Generally, corn is “not a human food product,”

    If your only experience with corn as a food product is that over-boiled 1/2 cobb they have as a side at KFC, then I would have to agree with you.

    However, if you’ve had properly prepared southern creamed corn, there is no better side dish as a human food product.

  3. Game Fan says:

    Saying that turning corn into fuel doesn’t effect the price of food is like saying the price of diesel or natural gas doesn’t effect the price of oil. F.Y.I. I’ve always been opposed to any type of government subsidy for putting something green (or yellow) into machines. (takes a bow) Once again if we want real alternatives and competition remove the corporate welfare and take the politicians out of the formula.

  4. Technocrat says:

    At least a local ethanol producer should have a serious edge since the typical transport cost of the product from the upper midwest adds 60 cents per gallon.
    Georgia bulk ethanol is in the top 5 states as to delivered pricing.

    What will the corn cost to get to plant from where? And the 5 gallons of water consumed per gallon of ethanol produce is always a drought concern.

    http://www.dtnethanolcenter.com/index.cfm?show=10&mid=32

  5. Melb says:

    I don’t know if this is true, but I heard that they had to inject cows with something to help them digest the corn because it is something that cows don’t normally eat and if they don’t get injected that they will throw it up or get sick.

    Also, if you ask me, corn syrup is one of the reasons Americans are so fat so maybe we should have less corn for consumption. And if you want to eat the healthy corn and the price is so inflated that you simply cannot afford it, you could always plant it yourself.

    So maybe it would be better to use corn for ethanol instead of force feeding cows and getting fat.

  6. Chris says:

    GameFan – why do you hate? Did your mother not love you as a child?

    Don’t you know taking the politicians out of the formula would deny them the ability to make speeches and issue press releases? All these poor politicians want to do is issue worthless press releases and bloviate in front of TV camera while getting fat at the public’s teat and you advocate denying them that?

    Lose the hate man, lose the hate.

  7. MSBassSinger says:

    I can’t blame the guy for capitalizing on free government money and the current mindless enthusiasm for ethanol. But to say it doesn’t affect prices of corn and food that depends on corn more than 2-3% is just pure lying. You can’t take 1/3rd of the supply off the market and not seriously affect prices.

    A much better approach, which takes no food grains, no government subsidies, and can make fuel (gasoline, diesel, etc.) cheaper is what Bell Bio-Energy (http://bellbioenergy.com) in Tifton is doing. Their process works now, and if used across the US can meet about 40-50% of the gasoline and diesel fuel requirements, and doesn’t require any of the food supply.

  8. MountainThinker says:

    Congrats to them, though I too agree that corn is no longer the best step forward. This however will be good for Georgia. If you’re interested in other Georgia biofuel operations, you should check out http://www.GenesisAlternative.com as well… Using an old Georgia crop to meet new needs…

  9. MSBassSinger says:

    MountainThinker,

    Being an old SOWEGA boy whose first jobs were working in the fields, I just love seeing Georgia farmers coming up with good ideas, though the claim that 1 acre of sorghum cane stalks can generate 10 MW of electrical power is a bit of a stretch (to be kind).

    However, ethanol is not and will not be the answer to the problem. It is too expensive to produce, and tends to pollute more and reduce mileage in the vehicles that use it. Ethanol, like so many other biomass solutions, electric cars, and hydrogen/fuel cell technology, takes more energy to produce it than it gives back.

    That is why the Bell Bio-Energy approach is much better. It uses far less energy to directly create gasoline and diesel, with little or no refining necessary. It uses existing supplies of waste biomass, so it doesn’t require the use of existing farmland.

    IMHO, we need government out of the way, with no subsidizing, and let the market sort it out. I suspect gas and diesel from Bell’s process that costs less than gas and diesel do now will be what the market chooses over higher priced ethanol that is more polluting and reduces mileage.

  10. Game Fan says:

    I like what Bell Bio Energy is doing if the market will support it. Although not a big fan of GMOs/patenting life. As an example I have a friend in the enviro business and they were remediating some land contaminated with oil. So the company brings in large bags of “patented” microorganisms that munch on oil. And he tells the boss to send that expensive crap back because the organisms were already in the soil. All they needed was oxygen. Sure enough after aerating the soil the oil munchkins started to do what they do best apparently, and the soil was fixed without the help of “bio-science”.

  11. MSBassSinger says:

    Game Fan,

    Don’t you just love it when the folks who know how to work the earth (farmers, others in agriscience) trump the supposed know-it-alls whose knowledge and experience is limited to the lab?

    As a side note, making genetic changes to existing species has been going on for many centuries. That is what animal husbandry and breeding of various critters and bugs is all about. The ability to do it via the lab rather than the barnyard is just a different way to same results.

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