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Farm Bureau Predicts Less Corn Planted Than USDA

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 30, 2007 – The Agriculture Department’s annual spring-planting report indicates that America’s farmers will plant 12.1 million (15 percent) more acres of corn than last year, a total of 90.5 million acres. The USDA report, released in Washington, D.C., is based on a survey of the planting intentions of more than 86,000 farmers during the first two weeks of March conducted by the National Agricultural Statistics Service. This is a greater increase in acreage than had been anticipated by American Farm Bureau Federation economists.

“Prior to the report I had expected that 87.5 million acres would be planted to corn, which is up 12 percent from year-ago levels,” said Terry Francl, AFBF senior economist. “These numbers all represent a substantial increase, but you also have to look at it from a historical perspective, and then you will see that today’s report is only a 10.6 percent increase from 2005.”

The jump in acres expected to be planted to corn is likely due to farmers responding to an intensifying demand for corn-based ethanol. This demand was also largely responsible for pushing grain prices to a 10-year high, according to Francl. Corn futures had traded as much as 80 percent above year-earlier levels the past few months. Consequently, U.S. farmers responded to this market signal by switching acres from crops like cotton, rice and soybeans to corn, according to Francl.

The survey also reported that America’s farmers plan to plant 67.1 million acres of soybeans, the lowest total since 1996 and a decrease of 8.4 million acres compared to last year. The acreage allocated to cotton is expected to total 12.1 million acres, down 20 percent from 2006. USDA estimated rice acreage at 2.64 million acres, down 7 percent from 2006 and down 22 percent from 2005, which would be the lowest planted acreage since 1987. There are other crops USDA predicts will see an increase in planted acreage such as wheat, which is expected to increase 5 percent from 2006, to 60.3 million acres.

The increased acreage predictions also suggest that this year’s corn harvest may rise to a record, topping the prior peak of 11.8 billion bushels in 2004. The USDA on March 2 forecast that demand for corn will rise 4.8 percent to 12.33 billion bushels in the marketing year that begins Sept. 1 compared with 11.76 billion this year. Based on today’s planting report, Francl said corn production in 2007 could top 12.5 billion bushels and add slightly to the carry over stocks, which is a key component in price determination.

Francl said only time will tell how many acres are actually planted for the production of corn, but in the meantime interested parties need to realize that the weather has the power to trump all predictions.

“This is just the first step in the long process of the growing season. The crop must actually get planted, go through the critical pollination period, the summer heat and finally be harvested,” Francl said. “Weather is an important variable at each juncture that will determine the final crop size.”

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Contacts: Tracy Taylor Grondine
(202) 406-3642
tracyg@fb.org
Cyndie Sirekis
(202) 406-3649
cyndies@fb.org