National Corn Growers Association CEO Rick Tolman said U.S. agriculture has the capability to meet U.S. and world food supply needs and still make a significant contribution to addressing the nation's fuel needs.

"These goals are compatible and not in conflict," Tolman told reporters at a biofuels news conference Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

Tolman's comments were part of a forum discussing the release of the Biotechnology Industry Organization's latest report, "Achieving Sustainable Production of Agricultural Biomass for Biorefinery Feedstock." The report examines the opportunities and challenges facing U.S. farmers in meeting the need for food and fuel.

NCGA analysis of demand and production shows the corn industry will be able to meet the demand for 15 billion gallons of ethanol by the year 2015. Tolman noted corn yields have increased approximately 3.5 bushels per acre per year since the 1995-1996 crop year and the ethanol industry now converts 2.8 gallons per bushel of corn, up from 2.5 gallons per bushel several years ago.

"The ethanol industry is driven by innovation," Tolman said. "New technologies will squeeze more ethanol out of a bushel of corn."

The forum took place one day after Broin Companies announced it would build a commercial cellulose-to-ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa. The plant, scheduled for completion in 2009, would have a capacity of 75 million gallons of ethanol per year. The ethanol would be made from corn stover and fiber. Broin is the largest dry mill ethanol producer in the United States

SOURCE: NCGA news release.