WASHINGTON – American farmers are poised again to harvest a near-record corn crop and record soybean crop, according to the Renewable Fuels Association. This fall, farmers are likely to establish a new record for the amount of corn produced per acre of land.
U.S. Department of Agriculture projections released Sept. 11 state farmers are expected to produce a record 161.9 bushels per acre, a 5% increase over last year’s average yield and 1.5 bushels/acre higher than the previous record set in 2004. Total corn production is expected to reach 13 billion bushels, a 7% increase over last year and the second-largest crop on record, U.S.D.A. expects. The agency also expects record soybean production of 3.25 billion bushels.
Fifteen years ago, 35 million more acres of corn would have been needed to produce the equivalent of this year’s crop, according to the R.F.A. Advancements in farming and seed technology now allow farmers to produce far more per acre, reducing the need for total crop acreage, the association adds.
"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 U.S. and abroad. The facts simply don’t support this hypothesis," states an R.F.A. news release.
"It is time we put to bed the flawed notion that increased biofuel production results in vastly expanded cropland," said Bob Dinneen, R.F.A. president. "With record yields on fewer acres, American farmers have demonstrated beyond refute 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."
Mr. Dinneen added that yield growth alone will provide the additional feedstock required 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."
As a result of expanding production, the ethanol industry will demand an additional 525 million bushels this year. Yield growth alone will provide an additional 630 million bushels, R.F.A. claims.
The U.S. ethanol industry will produce 11.8 billion gallons of ethanol and 32 million metric tons of livestock feed, based on U.S.D.A. projections of corn for ethanol use in the 2009/2010 crop year (Sept. 2009-Aug. 2010),
"U.S.D.A. 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," Mr. Dineen said.