Editor’s note: Wondering when we will end our dependence on foreign oil? This isn’t the way to do it!
Backed by government subsidies and mandates, hundreds of ethanol plants rose among the golden fields of the Corn Belt, bringing jobs and business to small towns, providing farmers with a new market for their crops and generating billions of dollars in revenue for the producers of this corn-based fuel blend.
Those days of promise and prosperity are vanishing.
Nearly 10 percent of the nation’s ethanol plants have stopped production over the past year, in part because the drought that has ravaged much of the nation’s crops pushed commodity prices so high that ethanol has become too expensive to produce.
A dip in gasoline consumption has compounded the industry’s problem by reducing the demand for ethanol.
ST. LOUIS – A deepening drought in the nation’s farm states has cut further into this fall’s harvest, with farmers now expected to pull from their fields the lowest corn yield in more than a decade.
But American farmers are still expected to produce their eighth-largest harvest ever, and while there’s sure to be a rise in prices at the grocery stores, there’s little risk of a failed harvest that would lead to shortages on the shelves.
The U.S. Agriculture Department predicted the nation’s biggest harvest ever in the spring, when farmers planted 96.4 million acres of corn – the most since 1937. But it cut its estimate a month ago and again Friday, saying it now expects the nation to produce 10.8 billion bushels, the least since 2006.
Who would have ever thought proximity to Route 422 would be a litmus test for a good corn crop? Certainly not I. However, that is the case in Berks County. Farms south of 422 are in good shape and farms north of 422 are suffering.
July’s above normal temperatures, coupled with a lack of rain has caused tremendous damage to corn crops in Berks County located north of 422. Farms south of 422 received more rain and the clay-like soil holds moisture better. Most farms in Berks County do not use irrigation to water crops.
Berks County is not the only place where the corn crop is doing poorly. Nationwide it is estimated that corn yields will be down 40 percent! This translates into higher prices at the supermarket for you and I!
Another casualty of the heat has been milk production. Cows do not like heat (sounds familiar) and when they are hot they eat less and produce less milk!