Tuesday, November 11, 2014

30 Days: Thoughts of a Future Farmer Day 11

Where did the Corn Go?

I've had people ask many times, "Where does all that corn go?!  It just.... Disappears!"  The specific time I'm referencing, the person was very young.  To answer the question, there's a whole process. 

For the farm where I work, it gets stored in a bin and waits until we need to use it for feed for pigs. 

In the United States, we have a few common uses of corn.

1. Ethanol Production - corn is sold to companies like POET Bio-Refining who take it, extract the oil, and most of the parts of the corn that are used for energy, and make ethanol.  The leftover parts of the corn is sold as Dried Distillers Grains (DDGs) or Wet Distillers Grains (WDGs) that are used as supplements for corn as a fraction of some livestock feeds - most commonly in hogs and poultry.

2. Corn Processing for Syrup, Syrup, Sugars, etc. - Cargill is one example of a company that buys corn from growers and processes it, crushes it, and extracts sugars, starches, and makes products such as, "...high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, other syrups used in beverage production, brewing, confectionery, food and pharmaceutical applications..." Source - Cargill.  They also produce other food ingredients that go into your, "...cereals, breads, corn gluten meal, fuel-grade ethanol, and are a leading producer of corn oil..."  Source - Cargill. Their job is to add value to the corn that comes in, and make it more beneficial to the end-user.

3. Feed - corn is either harvested before it is dry and chopped for silage for cattle, or it is dried down before harvesting and ground for other livestock feed (ie. swine, turkey, chicken, other cattle feed).

4. Exports - Around home it is common to haul down to the Ohio River and your truck may be unloaded directly to a barge at an ADM port, for example.  This gets sent all over the world, but our largest export location is China.  I'll touch on China's demand for US agricultural products at a later date. 

5. Flour Milling - Some people raise white corn, and the main purpose of white corn is flour milling.  The folks I know haul theirs to Owensboro, KY, where there are a couple mills that will take corn, grind into flour, bag, and sell the processed product.

6. Popcorn Production -  Your ACME or Redenbacher popcorn (or any others) were once in a field somewhere, believe-it-or-not.  Popcorn is a limited-market crop.  By this I mean that you have to have a deal with a company that wants your corn before you plant it.  The stipulations for popcorn are strict, but there is a premium on popcorn.  Basically, after harvest you hold your corn until the popcorn company tells you that they're ready to bag your corn.  When they say, you load the truck, deliver, and life moves on.  It is just a little different process than regular #2 Yellow dent corn. 

I hope you learned something today.  More importantly, Happy Veteran's Day!  Take a moment today to reflect on who helped get our country where it is today.  God Bless Veterans.

At the farm this week, they're hauling some corn to sell because we had a great crop last year and because of that, we are tight on space this year and have a little corn to harvest yet.  

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