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U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts plummeting corn yields due to U.S. drought

Posted Aug. 10, 2012 / Posted by: Lisa Matthes

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In the first estimates to take into account the extreme heat and droughts that have ravaged the country this summer, the Department of Agriculture predicted this morning that U.S. corn production will fall to 10.8 billion bushels for the 2012/2013 growing season, the lowest since the 2006/2007 growing season which was before passage of the Renewable Fuel Standard 2. Yields are projected to decline by 22.6 bushels per acre or 15 percent from the June report to 123.4 bushels per acre.

The USDA’s World Agricultural Supply and Demands Estimates report released today shows a drastic decline from early-year estimates. Today’s estimate is the first of this growing season to incorporate objective field data into the yield estimate.

Friends of the Earth’s Biofuels Policy Campaigner Michal Rosenoer had the following to say in response to the WASDE estimates:

“The myth that corn ethanol is a safe or sustainable alternative to oil dried up right alongside this year's corn crop. There’s no room in our energy future for a fuel that is so easily crippled by bad weather and has such a drastic effect on global food prices. These yields outlined in the USDA report mean heartbreak and hard times for farmers and for the millions of people who will end up paying higher food prices this year.

“Even before the drought, we were diverting 40 percent of our corn in the U.S. to ethanol thanks to the Renewable Fuel Standard, our federal biofuels mandate. Now, there even less corn available. Congress needs to prioritize people -- not the biofuels industry -- and rein in policies that put fuel before food.

“This report is a reality check on the repercussions of using a fuel that can’t handle the heat. In the new normal of accelerating climate change, droughts and soaring temperatures will be more common and corn yields are likely to remain erratic. And while climate change makes corn ethanol an unstable energy source, corn ethanol production makes climate change worse. The EPA’s own data shows that corn ethanol actually adds more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than gasoline.”

Contact:

Rebecca Connors, 202-222-0744, rconnors@foe.org

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