Friday, May 02, 2008

Update on "King Corn"

An interesting discussion of Iowa ag vis a vis the documentary "King Corn". Iowa Public TV interviews two farmers/ag leaders on the subject. A couple excerpts:

"We've heard different times over the last 20 years how everything had changed. 1996 we had higher prices for corn. We had prices change in 1988 and in the early 90s as well. And each time seemed like it was forever, it wasn't....

"Yeager: But if I was to go into a banker tomorrow and try to get money to go farm, I want to take my father's 160 and farm it, I want to turn it from corn into rutabagas or rhubarb or something like that. The banker is probably going to laugh me out of the room.

Kirschenmann: Sure, and there's no way that you could do it because even -- some of the research that we have done at Iowa State University makes it very clear now that if farmers added a third crop to that corn and soybean rotation they would get a lot of benefits from that. It would reduce their disease pressure, the weed pressure.

So, there would be a lot of things that would reduce their costs. But you talk to a farmer and say, well, why don't you raise this third crop? The first question is, which one, what do I add to it? And, of course, we know that we can raise wheat in Iowa but some of the farmers that I talk to, at least in Central Iowa say, if they were to raise wheat they'd have to haul it 200 miles to find a place even that will buy it. So, that adds to the cost.

Yeager: Because their structure is set up -- we have a grain co-op in basically every town and every county across the state -- the infrastructure is there.

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