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U.S. and Canadian farmers express great concerns with ethanol

[Lexington, Kentucky] -- More than 1,000 farmers, nutritionists, feed mill managers, students, and journalists attended Alltech's 2007 North American Lecture Tour (NALT).? The topic, "An Industry in Crisis," addressed the growing concern about the amount of corn being diverted from animal agriculture to ethanol production.? The problem facing animal agriculture is twofold:? 1) exploding demand leads to higher corn prices, and 2) with more distilleries, there will be more dried distiller's grains with solubles (DDGS), which is an inconsistent feed source.

"This is a problem not only for today, but for tomorrow and for years to come," said Alltech President Dr. Pearse Lyons.? "With the President's biofuels mandate of 20 percent in 2020 and 30 percent in 2030, ethanol is the darling of Wall Street, but presents a problem on the rural route," said Lyons, in reference to President George W. Bush's challenge to America to provide 20 and 30 percent of its fuel as biofuels by 2020 and 2030 respectively.

As corn prices recently soared to a 10-year high in the U.S., many agricultural experts are beginning to express concern about the supply of corn for the feed and food industries. From a mere 175 million gallons in 1980 to an estimated 11 billion gallons in 2008, the corn-fed fuel is driving an economic boom around the world, but at the same time utlizing a large share of the corn supply. Analysts predict the ethanol industry will pull 139 million tons of corn from the 2008 harvest.

"We had the third largest corn crop in history and second largest yield in history, and yet the prices of corn are going through the roof," said Lyons.

Dr. James Pierce, coordinator of monogastric nutrition at Alltech, explained that one way to address the rising cost of feedstuffs is through secondary fermentation products.? Through solid-state fermentation (SSF), we can grow organisms on DDGS, the co-products of ethanol, that will give us a more consistent and higher quality feed source.

"Variability of DDGS is a major problem facing today's farmer," said Pierce.? "By embracing technologies such as Allzyme? SSF, we can reduce variability and increase feeding rates, thus reducing the impact on the animals and on the bottom line."

Dr. Juan Tricarico, coordinator of ruminant research at Alltech, expanded on Pierce's presentation with technologies for the fast changing world of beef and dairy production. ?Tricarico said the farmer of the future needs to think about profitability and sustainability while focusing on the animal and its health and productivity.

"We need to have strategies to optimize rumen function, and products such as Yea-Sacc?1026 and Optigen? can help us to prevent dysfunction while maintaining microbial protein synthesis and fiber fermentation," said Tricarico.

To read the blog of the event, please visit for more information.