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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Corn Usage


So the information in this blog was far more difficult to find than I expected.  I was hoping that USDA would have some data or charts that I could use to make my point.  Lots of people seem to be concerned about the amount of corn that goes to non-food uses.  Especially of concern is the amount of corn that goes to ethanol production.  My contention would be that the demand dictates what farmers choose to produce.  Somehow, economics seems to balance it all out.  Right now the experts I listen to say that demand for corn will be strong.  Since we have developed new uses for the crops we produce, world commodity prices have gone up.  Looking at the charts above, it looks like the increase in ethanol production decreased our direct payment subsidies to farmers.  Farmers and the public both say they want this.  I also found it interesting that world soybean production has increased 5 fold since the 1970's, but not at the expense of corn production.

These charts are from Earth Policy Institute and they have lots of other interesting stuff to look at as well.  I also found interesting information at an FAO site called FAOSTAT.  EPA also had some good agricultural statistics which surprised me.  I did find the raw data in some form or another, but it was hard to extract.  Thanks to the organizations that did all the work compiling data. This current World Supply and Demand report contains some interesting data compiled by USDA.  This report is blamed for recent drops in commodity prices, but I would blame traders that just read the headlines instead of really studying the report.  While the accuracy of estimates could be questioned, the past data should be correct. 

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