What is in this article?:
- Commentary: Lies, damn lies and statistics......
- Next year is different story
- It is easily the worst drought in our lifetimes, and many will suffer because of it. In particular, the livestock industry is being hard hit with high feed prices and short supplies.
- We also know it is a time for agriculture to pull together and seek realistic solutions. The national media does not help when they continue to sensationalize the issue and report misinformation.
The 19thCentury British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli has been credited with pointing out that there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.
While no one knows for sure whether he really said this, what we do know for sure is that we are experiencing a devastating and widespread drought in the United States that has decimated our corn and soybean crops and ravaged our hay and pasture lands across the Midwest.
It is easily the worst drought in our lifetimes, and many will suffer because of it. In particular, the livestock industry is being hard hit with high feed prices and short supplies.
We also know it is a time for agriculture to pull together and seek realistic solutions. The national media does not help when they continue to sensationalize the issue and report misinformation.
Here are a few examples where the national media needs to do a little homework and get the story straight rather than repeat what someone before them misreported.
• 40 percent of our corn is used for ethanol. This simply is not true. This is a misconception that comes from the way USDA tracks and publishes their statistics. Forty percent of our corn is processed for ethanol, but a third of that comes back out of the ethanol process and goes to livestock production in the form of the corn fiber and protein that is not used in the ethanol production process. This by-product is called distillers grains and is a widely used, highly prized livestock feed. In reality, last year 28 percent of the corn we produced was used for ethanol.
• More corn is now used for ethanol than is used for livestock feed. Again, not true. See above. When the distillers grain is accounted for, corn consumed by livestock still exceeds corn consumed by ethanol. 43 percent of our corn goes to livestock feed and 28 percent of our corn goes for ethanol. Frankly, when you look at our entire corn crop and how it ultimately is used, approximately 52 percent of the total U.S corn supply is consumed by livestock, because 80 percent of what we export is consumed by livestock.
• $8 corn is causing massive food price increases. Not yet. $8 corn is a market-clearing price. Very little corn has traded, or is trading, at $8. Ask any group of corn producers to raise their hands if they have sold much $8 corn and you will get few hands raised. Instead, ask how many have sold $5 or $6 corn and almost all will sheepishly raise a hand. Why? Most have agreed earlier in the year to sell their corn at a set price, and up until June of this year, we expected prices to be declining because of an anticipated very large crop. Food manufacturers who raise prices now and blame $8 corn are simply being opportunistic. It is too early in the cycle for $8 corn to have had impact on food prices.