Ethanol surpasses farm animals for corn demand

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COLUMBIA, Mo. - More corn will fuel U.S. gas tanks in the coming year than will feed U.S. livestock and poultry.

Amid cuts to yield estimates for corn and soybeans, the USDA's Crop Production and Supply/Demand Report projects that ethanol plants will use 200 million more bushels of corn than animals will eat.

"That's a first-time-ever type of change," said Ron Plain, an economist for University of Missouri Extension. "For forever, feed was the largest single use of corn."

Sustained high corn prices resulted in a lot of red ink for livestock producers, forcing many to shrink their livestock and poultry stocks to reduce costs and to get a better price.

"Critters have to eat, so many farms will have to downsize and that is reflected in the reduced forecast for meat production next year," Plain said. "You have to go back to 1995 to find a smaller amount of corn to be fed to livestock in the U.S. That is going to make things tough for the livestock and poultry industries."

Harvests will take a hit if USDA yield estimates hold true. Corn will make 4 percent less - 556 million bushels - than the 13.47 billion bushels anticipated nationwide in July. Soybean yields will fall 5.24 percent - 169 million bushels - from July estimates of 3.225 billion bushels.

Missouri cornfields show the impact of June floods and July heat, with 32 percent of fields rated at poor or below, according to the Missouri Agricultural Statistics Service. However, August might stem the damage if cooler weather holds.

"Corn doesn't like drought or hot, warm nights, so it wasn't a surprise that USDA cut the yield estimates," Plain said. "So far, August hasn't been that bad a month, with lower temperatures this week and some rain, so if we cross our fingers it may not get any worse than this."

Less corn to go around means fewer exports, less feed and less ethanol. Carryover stocks of corn dropped to 714 million bushels, a level last seen in 1996. That combined with a growing population will drive up prices.

"The very, very tight carryover is why corn prices are going to be record-high this year," Plain said. "We really need to plant more acres to corn next year than this year, and this was the second most acres planted in 67 years."

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NY  |  August, 12, 2011 at 01:54 PM

Who knew that we have so much extra food in the world that we can even run our cars on it!

CA  |  August, 12, 2011 at 03:08 PM

Oops, don't say that with your mouth full!

Long Beach, CA  |  August, 13, 2011 at 09:54 AM

No wonder food prices are going through the roof.

Larry Price    
WA  |  August, 13, 2011 at 12:25 PM

It is my understanding that the ethanol plants don't just throw remains away after fermenting the starch into alchol. The remainders are a high protein food source that can be used for animal feed, better in fact for cows since they have a hard time with the starch in the corn. So practically all of the food value from the corn is still available for livestock and the corn going to ethanol production should not be consider as taking away from the feed supply.

Al Tacke    
Ohio  |  August, 13, 2011 at 01:40 PM

Amen brother. That is true and correct.

ME  |  August, 13, 2011 at 09:48 PM

"For the first time, more corn will supply ethanol plants than feed farm animals" _________________________________________________ Yet the Republicans stand 100% behind the big Agra-farms and their lobby which manage to get them MI$$IONS in SUBSIDIES each year NOT to grow corn while the SMALL TIME farmers are being driven out of business by higher operating cost and overhead and are completely IGNORED by Right Wing politicians who are ONLY concerned about the MEGA-AGRA-FARMS which are some of their biggest campaign contributors. The stinking Right Wingers are the biggest SELL OUT HYPOCRITES of middle class in America and they thrive on it !

kentucky  |  August, 14, 2011 at 09:32 AM

How come no one cares about all the corn,grain and fruit used in the production of alcoholic beverages? That could be used to feed people and livestock also.

Elmer Fudd    
Bumphuk, Arkansas  |  August, 14, 2011 at 10:08 AM

So WHY then are all food prices rapidly rising as much as they are?

Jonesy Farmer    
Tinbucktoo  |  August, 14, 2011 at 12:52 PM

Grow hemp you idiots. It's cheaper, less water, less fertilizer and it works great for fuel. And go to small farming plots for familes to provide foodstuff. Get away from so much meat in our diets. Chickens eat anything, much like goats-idiots!

WI  |  August, 15, 2011 at 01:37 AM

I lost 6 miles a gallon when they went from 5% to 10% ethanol in the gas! They should grow hemp instead, it has just as many uses if not more...

David Chu    
Argentin  |  August, 15, 2011 at 04:21 PM

you guys really don't know much about the production of ethanol and DDG concurrently that is done in the US, even using this worst type of ethanol feedstock and doing monoculture. Read this article on the real history and science behind the production of ethanol.

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