Higher Corn Yields on Same Acres Will Meet Food, Feed and Fuel Needs

In separate news releases, the U.S. Grains Council and the Renewable Fuels Association cite the USDA’s World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) released today

In separate news releases, the U.S. Grains Council and the Renewable Fuels Association cite the USDA’s World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) released today as evidence that American crop farmers are capable of producing ample corn supplies to meet the needs of domestic food, livestock feeds and renewable fuels.

Speaking for the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), at-large director Julius Schaaf expects this fall’s corn harvest to be one of the best ever on his Randolph, IA, farm.

The WASDE report projects the same for the nation’s corn crop, forecasting 13 billion bushels of corn, the second largest harvest in history, a record-setting yield, and a 100-million-bushel increase in exports.

“We produce more on fewer acres,” said Schaaf. “It is because we deploy sound science when making our planting decisions. Because of biotechnology, we can meet all demands domestically and around the world.”

USDA is estimating U.S. corn production will be 193 million bushels higher than last month’s reported estimates. The agricultural department is projecting a record national average yield of 161.9 bu./acre and they raised corn export projections for 2009/2010 by 100 million bushels – due primarily to higher projected imports for Canada and lower production in South America and China.

USGC President and CEO Ken Hobbie said the United States is more than capable of supplying the necessary feed grains both domestically and abroad.

“U.S. agricultural production will become increasingly vital to feeding a hungry world as U.S. export competitors’ production drops due to poor weather conditions,” said Hobbie. “We are proud of U.S. farmers for once again stepping up to the challenge of producing more coarse grains to satisfy all demands.”

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) noted the USDA’s yield projections would mark a 5% increase over last year’s average yield, which is 1.5 bu./acre higher than the previous record set in 2004, and total corn production at 13 billion bushels is a 7% increase over last year and the second-largest crop on record.

The RFA pointed out that just 15 years ago, 35 million more acres of corn would have been needed to produce the equivalent of this year’s crop.

“Because of advancements in farming and seed technology, farmers can produce far more per acre, reducing the need for total crop acreage,” noted the RFA release. “Such facts run counter to the hysterical claims that increased U.S. biofuel production is leading to increased conversion of non-agricultural land in the United States and abroad. The facts simply don’t support this hypothesis.”

“It is time we put to bed the flawed notion that increased biofuel production results in vastly expanded cropland,” said RFA President Bob Dinneen. “With record yields on fewer acres, American farmers have demonstrated beyond refute (that) they are more than capable of providing the raw materials for ample food, feed and fuel. Such abundance and productivity would be catastrophic to farmers if new sources of demand did not exist. The role of ethanol in providing a value-added opportunity for farmers has been vital, and exists without requiring new cropland.”

Dinneen went on to explain that the yield growth alone will provide the additional feedstock needed by the ethanol industry in 2009/10. “In other words, not a single additional acre of corn is needed over last year’s levels to meet the industry’s additive feedstock demand,” he said. “This demonstrates that increased demand for corn resulting from ethanol expansion can be met solely through yield gains.”

With expanding production, the ethanol industry will require an additional 525 million bushels of corn this year. The yield growth cited will provide an additional 630 million bushels. According to the USDA’s projections of corn for ethanol use in the 2009/2010 crop year (Sept. 2009-Aug. 2010), the U.S. ethanol industry will produce 11.8 billion gallons of ethanol and 32 million metric tons of livestock feed.

“USDA projects an increase in the amount of corn being fed to livestock and an increase in exports, proving that expanded use of corn for ethanol is not diverting grain from food and feed markets,” Dinneen added.