USDA confirmed Friday that the devastating drought has had a big impact on the nation’s corn crop. National Corn Growers Association President Garry Niemeyer says the nation’s farmers have done all they can to increase the corn supply – planting the most corn acres the country has seen since 1937 this year. Without advanced seed technology – including biotechnology and new genetics that help corn plants use water more efficiently and better tolerate extreme heat and other drought conditions – Niemeyer notes production losses would be even greater. He says many NCGA farmer-members are suffering immensely due to the drought – adding that many are in the same predicament as corn customers because they have livestock or own ethanol plant shares. According to Niemeyer – it’s time for all of American agriculture to pull together and work for solutions that benefit everyone.
To that end – NCGA has some recommendations. First – Niemeyer says it’s important to maintain a level perspective when looking at the situation. He says history has shown the market works in the long-run – it will correct and continue to effectively allocate the corn supply for the various corn customers. Niemeyer says it’s crucial to maintain a rational perspective when examining the impact corn has on food prices. He notes corn is still an incredibly small portion of the price paid for groceries – with the amount of corn in a box of corn flakes still costing only about 12-cents – and only 37 cents worth of corn needed to produce a pound of hamburger.
As for how the drought impacts the nation’s biofuels policy – Niemeyer says NCGA stands firm in support of the Renewable Fuel Standard. They also support the waiver process – and ask that parties who would seek changes do so in that manner – rather than through legislation. Given that most of the crop is still in the field – NCGA believes it is still somewhat premature to consider a partial waiver of RFS provisions. Plus – Niemeyer points out that recent analysis suggests the current need for octane in gasoline is driving ethanol demand – not the RFS.
Finally – Niemeyer says the current weather situation demonstrates the pressing need for Congress to pass a farm bill this year. He says the crop insurance and risk management tools authorized in the legislation provide critical assistance to crop and livestock farmers when they face losses due to drought and other adverse weather conditions, crop disease or volatile markets. NCGA is strongly urging the House Speaker to bring the farm bill to the floor for an open debate and quick vote.