With the reaffirmation by the current administration for the Renewable Fuel Standards, some ag pundits speculate that it will once again fire up the "Food vs. Fuel" debate surrounding the use of corn ethanol.
But two reports released by USDA last week — the annual "Prospective Plantings" report and the quarterly grain stocks report — demonstrate that there is and will be far and away enough corn for all of it intended uses, according to the Renewable Fuels Assn.
Specifically, USDA expects 88.8 million acres of corn to be planted and total crop acreage to be virtually unchanged. USDA also counts current corn stocks at 7.69 billion bushels, up 11% over last year at this time. "However, as the information is not likely to shake the market too much, many of these stats may go unnoticed," says Matt Hartwig, director of Public Affairs for RFA.
Some of the salient points emphasized by Hartwig include:
– Acreage for all major crops hasn't increased — incremental needs for ethanol are being met through crop switching and not land use change.
– Corn in storage at this point in the year is at its highest level since 1987, a year in which an all-time record surplus of corn was recorded.
– The amount of corn currently stored on farms (4.6 billion bushels) is larger than the amount of corn that is expected to be processed into ethanol in 2009-10 (4.2 billion bushels).
– At 7.7 billion bushels, the total amount of corn in storage (on farms and in off-farm locations) is larger than the total amounts of corn harvested annually as recently as the early 1990s.
"Obviously this all demonstrates quite convincingly that corn supplies are more than ample and will easily satisfy all demands with corn to spare," says Hartwig.