Cropland expansion not necessary for ethanol production

USDA Report shows crop acreage has dropped for second straight year

Natural Resource News

Washington – The amount of land dedicated to crops in the United States has dropped for the second straight year in 2010, according to a report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Crop acres in the United States continue to trend downward.

Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO contributes the decline to new technology and dramatically increasing yields which allow farmers to produce more crops on less land.

Says Dinneen, “The USDA report reinforces the fact that the nation’s farmers simply don’t need to expand cropland to meet global demands for food, feed, fiber, and biofuels. The report, which shows total cropland has declined 6 million acres since 2008, is evidence that growth in ethanol production is not leading to cropland expansion.”

While 2010 corn acres increased 1.6% from 2009, the uptick was more than offset by reductions in acreage for other coarse grains and wheat. USDA estimates total 2010 crop acres at 318.9 million, down from 319.3 million in 2009 and 325 million in 2008. For the sake of comparison, total planted acres averaged 327 million during the decade of the 1990s. A record corn crop of at least 13.3 billion bushels is expected in 2010, despite the fact that farmers planted nearly 6 million less acres of corn than in 2007 when the first 13 billion bushel crop was achieved.

RFA also noted that corn plantings were down from last year in many states with high levels of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acreage. For instance, corn acres dropped 4% in Texas, the leading CRP state in the nation. Corn acres also fell 7% in South Dakota, 4% in Nebraska, 3% in Iowa, and 1.3% in Minnesota. This further challenges the notion that grain ethanol expansion is leading to increased CRP conversion.

Disclaimer: Articles featured on Oregon Report are the creation, responsibility and opinion of the authoring individual or organization which is featured at the top of every article.