WASHINGTON — Farmers are poised to harvest a record corn crop this fall and achieve the highest yield per acre in U.S. history, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates released today. Meanwhile, the U.S. ethanol industry is on pace to produce a record amount of clean-burning renewable fuel, according to recent Department of Energy (DOE) data.
Today’s USDA report projects the 2014 corn crop at 14.4 billion bushels, with a record average yield of 171.7 bushels per acre.
“The American farmer has done it again!” said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). “U.S. farmers should be congratulated for producing what is primed to be the fifth record-breaking corn crop in the last 12 years. The innovation and rapid technology adoption we’ve seen in the corn sector over the past decade has been nothing short of astounding. The American farmer has again risen to the challenge to meet all demands for feed, food and fuel.”
Corn ending stocks for the 2014/15 marketing year are projected at 2 billion bushels — the highest since 2004/05. Meanwhile, prices are expected to average $3.50 per bushel. Global grain supply is also set to establish a new record and grain stocks are likely to hit a 14-year high. Pointing to a report released earlier this week by RFA, Dinneen said today’s USDA estimates “drive yet another nail in the coffin of the outrageous food vs. fuel debate.”
As harvest ramps up in fields across the country, corn demand from the ethanol sector is ramping up as well. DOE projects 2014 ethanol production will total approximately 14.3 billion gallons. “This is really shaping up to be a remarkable year for the corn and ethanol industries,” Dinneen said. “A decade ago, who would have dreamed that 14 billion bushels of corn and 14 billion gallons of clean-burning, domestically-produced ethanol would be the reality in 2014?”
However, Dinneen warned, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) disappointing proposal for 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumes is exacerbating a predicted drop in farm income this year. EPA’s proposal to reduce the 2014 RFS requirement for “renewable fuel” from 14.4 billion gallons to 13.01 billion gallons effectively reduces demand for corn by some 500 million bushels — at a time when corn stocks are rising and prices are slumping to levels below the cost of production.
“Now is not the time to artificially constrain demand for corn and tie the hands of the American farmer,” Dinneen said. “EPA’s misguided RFS proposal is limiting market opportunities for U.S. farmers at a time when the agricultural economy needs a boost. We again urge EPA and the Administration to finalize a rule that returns the RFS to its intended trajectory.”