(August 12, 2013) WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today projected that farmers will harvest a record corn crop of 13.76 billion bushels in 2013, up 28 percent from last year and 5 percent larger than the previous record crop. USDA expects that farmers will achieve a national average yield of 154.4 bushels per acre; that would be the third-highest yield on record, despite farmers experiencing one of the slowest, wettest planting seasons on record.
"America's farmers have again risen to the challenge of producing abundant feed, food, and fuel for consumers around the world. After the disappointment of last year's drought-stricken crop, farmers have responded by producing what is likely to be the largest crop of all time," said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. "By rapidly adopting new seed and equipment technologies over the past decade, this country's corn growers have distinguished themselves as the most productive in the world."
Dinneen continued, "While it is important to remember the crop is not yet in the bins, today's report should be the last nail in the coffin of the ridiculous 'food versus fuel' argument. Corn stocks are likely to hit an 8-year high and prices are at a 3-year low. Meanwhile, USDA is projecting food inflation to average just 2 percent in 2013, down from 2.6 percent in 2012 and well below the historical average of 3 percent. Meat prices are expected to advance just 1.5 percent this year, compared to 3.4 percent last year. All this while ethanol production, demand, and consumption continues to increase. Clearly, the link between the RFS, ethanol, and food prices does not exist."
Dinneen noted that USDA's report suggests livestock and poultry feed will remain as the top use of corn, accounting for 53 percent of total demand (when animal feed co-products from ethanol production are properly considered). By comparison, the ethanol industry is projected to account for 26 percent of corn demand on a net basis, exports will account for 10 percent, and food, seed, and industrial use will make up 11 percent. Additionally, feed usage is projected to be 15 percent higher than last year.
USDA expects global grain production to hit 2.43 billion metric tons in 2013, up 8 percent from last year and a new record. "Not only is U.S. corn production expected to achieve a new record, but world grain output is projected to soar to a new record as well," Dinneen said. "Simply put, there isn't a grain of truth to the notion that U.S. ethanol or the RFS are having any kind of meaningful impact on American or world food prices."
Bears seat to announce if they’ll be back in Bourbonnais
An afternoon news conference is expected today at Olivet Nazarene University. The NFL Chicago Bears will say if they plan on being back in Bourbonnais after this mini-camp season.
The Daily-Journal reports Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery and Olivet Nazarene University president John Bowling are likely to announce whether or not the team will continue training in Bourbonnais after this summer.
The Bears have been training at ONU since 2002 with two-year contracts. The team's been negotiating with the university on extending their stay past the 2013 season.
The D-J reports the camp has been attracting an estimated 100,000 fans each year. Sunday's practice drew the largest crowd ever. About 20,000 people were on hand to watch the Bears in action following Friday night's preseason loss to the Carolina Panthers..
Potential roadblocks are surfacing to the proposed Illiana Expressway that would connect Interstates 55 and 65 in Illinois and Indiana.
Two months ago, Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider was in Joliet to announce an aggressive schedule for the $1.2 billion highway, which likely would be a tollway. She predicted a 2015 ground-breaking date after the completion of an environmental impact study that's now under way.
But then three environmental groups — Openlands, the Midewin Heritage Association and the Sierra Club — filed a federal lawsuit in Chicago on July 10 to try to block the project. And on July 30, a staff analysis by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning criticized the Illiana plan, including its estimated cost and economic benefits.
The analysis, public comments and a staff recommendation will all be forwarded to the CMAP board and the Metropolitan Planning Organization board for review and votes in October. Federal regulations require the two boards to agree to amend their Go to 2040 long-term transportation plan to include the Illiana or environmental study cannot continue and the road won't be built.
The final CMAP staff recommendation hasn't been made, but the current analysis raises many issues with the 47-mile highway's planning by the Illinois Department of transportation.
CMAP staffers view IDOT's cost estimates as low. For instance, the study says the Illiana would cost $8.1 million per lane mile in 2020 dollars. But that estimate is much lower than similar projects, including the Interstate 355 extension through Will County that opened in 2007 and cost $18.9 million per lane mile.