Posted in | News | Green Farming | Biofuels

Current Agricultural Land Can Supply The US With All the Food, Fiber and Fuel Required

The acreage report released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides further evidence that U.S. farmers can significantly increase production of feed, food, fiber, and fuel without needing to expand the nation’s agricultural land base. Despite projections for near-record corn and record soybean plantings in 2009, total U.S. principal crop acreage declined by 4 million acres, or 1.2%, from 2008 levels.

"Because there is unused crop capacity in the United States and strong global stocks of agricultural products, it stands to reason that U.S. demand for agricultural products is not forcing land dislocation and indirect land use change in other countries," said Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen.

According to USDA data, acres planted to corn exceeded many industry estimates at 87.0 million acres, the second-largest planted area since 1946 (2007 was larger). Historical trends suggest an average yield of 157 bushels per acre, meaning farmers would produce a total crop of about 12.6 billion bushels, which would be the second-largest on record behind 2007’s 13 billion bushel haul.

Despite suggestions from biofuel critics that increased ethanol production would drive down soybean acres, USDA says soybean planted area for 2009 is estimated at a record high 77.5 million acres, up 2 percent from last year. Soybean area for harvest, at 76.5 million acres, is up 3 percent from 2008, and will be the largest harvested area on record, if realized.

Because wheat stocks are up 118% and barley stocks are up 30% over year ago, U.S. acreage for those two crops is projected lower than in 2008.

“For the third straight year, American farmers are expected to produce a record or near record amount of corn on fewer acres than were farmed a half-century ago,” said Dinneen. “Farming efficiencies and new technologies are yielding production gains for American agriculture that continue to exceed demand for food, feed and increasingly renewable fuel alternatives to petroleum. Putting our faith in the American farmer is a far better energy policy than relying on the good graces of foreign oil dictators.”

Dinneen added, “With good weather predicted for much of the Corn Belt this week, rest assured the corn will be more than knee high by the Fourth of July.”

As for the condition of the crop, the June 29 crop progress report found the condition of the corn crop is currently very good. The report showed 72% of the crop in good or excellent condition, which is well above the crop rating of 61% at this time last year. More than 80% of the crop is rated as good/excellent in the key corn states of IA, NE, OH, MN, and WI.

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