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Food supply

Corn supply crisis looms as demand outstrips growing capacity

Monday, August 14, 2006 by: NewsTarget
Tags: food supply, corn crop, health news


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(NewsTarget) According to analysts for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, America's third-largest corn crop ever -- 10.98 billion bushels -- is expected this Fall, but U.S. demand for the corn is threatening to outstrip supply.

The expected demand -- 7.6 percent more than the estimated supply -- could exhaust U.S. corn stockpiles by 2008 unless plantings are increased significantly. Experts say the demand is partly due to the increased interest in ethanol. As oil prices continue to skyrocket and drivers develop an interest in renewable fuel sources -- such as corn, sugar and soybeans -- experts say that ethanol demand is likely to account for 2.15 billion bushels (or 18 percent of the total crop) this year.

"There's definitely need for more corn," said analyst Mark McMinimy of Stanford Washington Research, who added that the ethanol industry was getting "bigger and hungrier" every year.

Analysts for the USDA said that 11.82 billion bushels of corn would be used in food, livestock feed, or distilled into ethanol over the next year, and if current trends continue, stockpiles could drop 40 percent to 1.23 billion bushels by next fall.

To combat this, corn growers need to plant about 85 million acres of corn, the largest in more than 30 years, according to private consultant John Schnittker.

However, a shortage of corn may have a silver lining -- health advocates cite an overabundance of unhealthy corn-based substances such as high-fructose corn syrup among the chief causes of America's obesity and diabetes epidemics.

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