According to USDA projections, U.S. farmers will plant 86 million acres of corn in 2008. At any time in the last 50 years, that would be plenty. Since 1958, USDA figures tell us, farmers have broken 80 million acres only ten times.
In fact, if farmers meet expectations, 2008 will rank as the second-largest planting of corn since 1949. If you own shares in a fertilizer company — corn being an extremely fertilizer-intensive crop — you’re celebrating. Indeed, shares of Mosaic, a fertilizer giant two-thirds owned by Cargill, have more than doubled in value over the past six months.
And yet, this year’s corn planting won’t be quite enough to "feed the world" while also satisfying demand for ethanol, i.e., feeding our cars.
As a commodity broker recently declared, as reported by Delta Farm Press:
[Current market conditions] tells me we need more corn and the volatility in the corn market will continue. I think we need a minimum of 3 million more acres of corn.
Rather than foul an additional 3 million of acres of land with corn — a land mass roughly equal to three Rhode Islands — how about we just pull the plug on the ethanol program? Just a thought!