NCGA: Growers meeting all food, feed, fuel needs

By Anna Austin | September 08, 2008
Web exclusive posted Sept. 24, 2008 at 5:23 p.m. CST

Further debunking allegations that U.S. farmers are unable to meet high demands for corn, specifically due to the production of corn-based ethanol, the National Corn Growers Association has released an 8-page white paper which addresses a number of issues surrounding the food versus fuel debate.

The NCGA indicated that dramatic advances in seed technology, improved agricultural efficiency, innovations in biofuels production and other breakthroughs are allowing the nation's farmers to meet the world's need for food, feed, fuel and other uses.

"It's important for consumers, news media and policy makers to know the truth about how the corn industry is advancing, thanks to technology, so we can provide more corn for more needs," said Ron Litterer, NCGA president. Litterer said the paper clearly shows how farmers are projected to expand production at a time when the United States really needs to bolster its energy independence.

"Accelerated growth in corn use for ethanol has led critics to question corn growers' ability to satisfy demand for both renewable fuels and traditional markets such as livestock and poultry feed, food processing and exports," states the paper. "This paper examines the fallacy of stating we must choose between
food and fueland provides accurate information and verifiable data to refute the "either-or" scenarios that are being touted by those who say we must make a choice between food or fuel. As they have done for decades, U.S. corn growers will continue to be reliable suppliers of both food and fuel."

The paper continues to point out that corn supply is keeping up with demand, and in the past five years U.S. growers have produced the largest corn crops in history. The 2007-08 crop set an all-time record of 14.4 billion bushels.

According to the NCGA, in 2007, farmers planted 92.9 million acres of corn, a 19 percent increase over 2006 and the highest level since 1944. In 2008, farmers planted 87 million acres of cornwhich reflects decisions based on the rise in prices of other commodities. "However, increased yields per acre and the corn surplus from the previous year will help meet the demand for corn," the NCGA stated.

Other key points in the paper were:
  • Corn demand for food and feed is leveling off.

  • Humans cannot eat corn used to make ethanol.

  • Even exported corn is used for animal feed, not human food.

  • Ethanol production creates food and feed.

  • Corn prices have not kept up with inflation.

  • Corn demand for ethanol has a negligible impact on retail food prices.

  • Ethanol in our fuel supply saves consumers money.

"Industries change and evolve in response to new technologies and new markets," Litterer said. "Instead of relegating agriculture to its traditional role as a feed and food supplier, shouldn't we welcome the ability of American farmers to help our nation meet its energy challenges as well?"

To read the NCGA white paper, visit