Uses of Corn

Corn grown by Nebraska farmers finds its way into an incredible variety of uses, from the traditional use in livestock and poultry feed to newer arenas like ethanol and bioplastics. In fact, as Nebraska corn farmers continue to increase yields and produce more corn per acre, there are opportunities for corn to be used in a growing number of ways.

Corn  makes an outstanding feed ingredient for livestock and poultry. Nationally livestock and poultry directly consume about 40 percent of the country’s corn crop – plus thousands of tons of corn co-products like distillers grains (produced by ethanol plants). In Nebraska, livestock production is the engine that powers our economy. It is fundamental to the well-being of the state and contributes in some way to the financial health of every Nebraskan. For more, click here.

Since its founding in 1978, the Nebraska Corn Board has worked to lay the foundation of today’s ethanol industry. Stone-by-stone and step-by-step we’ve seen success. One Nebraska ethanol plant in 1985 had grown to 24 plants by early 2011. These plants combine to produce nearly 2 billion gallons of ethanol from more than 700 million bushels of corn – and directly provide and support thousands of jobs. Along the way, these corn ethanol plants produce over 6 nillion tons of livestock feed known as distillers grains. For more, click here.

To help lay the groundwork for the ethanol industry, the Nebraska Corn Board has sponsored a significant amount of research and educational efforts focused on one of corn ethanol’s chief co-products: distillers grains. As the Corn Board-sponsored research demonstrated – and livestock producers verified – distillers grains makes an outstanding feed ingredient. This is especially true for beef cattle operations, although dairy cattle, swine and poultry also perform well on corn co-products. For more, click here.

With the help of research supported by corn checkoff dollars, corn-based materials like bioplastics and fabrics are a reality today. In fact, they are turning up in more and more places – compostable tableware, food containers, gift cards, snack chip bags, bedding, carpet, shirts and more. All of these products are made from renewable corn and directly replace products made from petroleum. NatureWorks LLC, based in Blair, Nebraska, is one of the companies that makes raw materials for all these products. Others include Mirel Bioplastics (owned by ADM and Metabolix) and DuPont Tate & Lyle BioProducts.

Corn exports out of Nebraska are divided into two categories: foreign and domestic. “Foreign exports” involve corn sales to countries around the world. “Domestic exports” includes any corn that is shipped from Nebraska to another state in the U.S., with California being the largest market for Nebraska corn, taking about 145 million bushels of Nebraska corn mostly for livestock and poultry last year. Foreign sales make up about 6 percent of corn usage, with Mexico (via rail) being a top market.

To support foreign markets for corn, the Nebraska Corn Board partners with the U.S. Grains Council to break down trade policy barriers and to educate buyers about the quality of U.S. corn and value-added corn products—as well as sorghum and barley. The Council is a unique partnership of producers, agribusiness, the public sector and overseas customers. It’s goal is to strengthen U.S. farmers’ profitability by boosting worldwide demand for grain. The Council operates offices around the world and conducts innovative market development programs in dozens of countries.

This past July, a group of Nebraskans, supported by the Nebraska Corn Board, packed their bags for Japan as part of a mission coordinated by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

The focus for this mission was an opportunity for U.S. beef and corn producers to assist in U.S. beef promotions and trade activities in the one of the busiest meat purchasing seasons. Additionally, they held meetings with the U.S. Embassy, retail and importer discussions, interaction with over 500 meat buyers at a meat symposium, visited a port and cold storage facility, attended a food blogger event and a U.S. beef activity in the tsunami-stricken Sendai region of Japan.

This video highlights the events of the trip, gains insight in the meat export market to Japan and covers the free beef meal activity to the people on Katsura Island.

Read all of the mission highlights on the Midwest Corn Growers Study Tour blog