According to data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), U.S. farmers planted 92.9 million acres of corn in 2007, exceeding last year’s corn area by 19 percent and surpassing the USDA’s earlier projection (in March) by 3 percent. To put that number into perspective, it is equal to the total arable (cropland) area of four of the nation’s leading farm states: Iowa, Illinois, North Dakota and Oklahoma.

The Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) forecasts that some 2.18 billion bushels of that corn will be converted to ethanol this year. At an average expected yield of 149.1 bushels per acre, that translates into 14.6 million acres — an area equal to the combined arable cropland of the entire northeastern United States (Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York State, and New England).

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The 6.9 billion gallons of ethanol thereby produced will displace, on an energy-equivalent basis (and not accounting for the energy consumed in producing the ethanol), roughly 3 percent of the nation’s annual gasoline consumption.

I just thought some readers would find these numbers interesting.

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