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What Happens to Iowa's Corn Crop Once It's Harvested?

Posted on April 29, 2014 at 6:00 AM by Iowa Corn

In 2013, Iowa farmers faced a challenging planting and growing season. Iowa had the wettest spring on record followed by a hot and dry summer. Despite the challenges, Iowa still produced nearly 2.2 billion bushels of corn!  What happens to all of that corn?  Who will use it? Where does it go?

Typically, Iowa has three primary markets for its corn: ethanol, exports and livestock. This year, our main markets are ethanol and livestock.

This year, Iowa’s 42 ethanol plants are expected to use approximately 1.3 billion bushels of corn, which in turn will produce well over 3.8 billion gallons of renewable ethanol fuel and 8.5 million metric tons (equivalent of 333 million bushels) of the livestock feed, distillers dried grains. 

Agriculture is Iowa’s number one industry. Iowa is the number one corn producing state. Ethanol is Iowa’s the largest user of corn; producing high octane fuel for drivers and high-protein feed for not only Iowa’s strong livestock and poultry industries but the U.S. and the world.
The other primary market is another Iowa value-added opportunity, livestock. Feed and residual use will consume 446 million bushels of this year’s crop. Actual feed use in state will total approximately 282 million bushels. Below is an estimated corn consumption breakdown for the 13/14 crop from the state’s different livestock sectors:

1.    Beef Cattle – 58 million bushels
2.    Hogs – 156 million bushels
3.    Dairy – 17 million bushels
4.    Poultry – 49 million bushels
5.    Other – 2 million bushels

Helping to feed the world is something all farmers take pride in. This year we are using Iowa’s corn crop to produce value added products such meat and egg products that then will be shipped out of state and overseas.

Another major export related to corn is distillers dried grains; 6.6 million metric tons will leave the state this year and 1.8 million metric tons will be fed to livestock and poultry in the state of Iowa.  This feed source is often forgotten. The ethanol co-product, distillers dried grains; which has become extremely popular among cattle feeders, hog producers and poultry feeders due to its high protein compared to whole corn and soybean meal. The 1.8 million metric tons that will be fed in Iowa will displace the need for 121 million bushels of corn. This stat debunks the ethanol myth “food vs. fuel” – folks need to understand that ethanol produces “FOOD and FUEL.”   

It truly was an amazing year in crop production. Being able to provide food, feed, clean fuel and fiber to the world’s growing population of seven billion and counting is something that all Iowans should take pride in.

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