By K. McDonald on June 14th, 2012
Corn ethanol use for 2011/12 is projected up 50 million bushels this month to 5,050 million as recent ethanol production data have been stronger than expected. While slowing from its peak in December 2011, ethanol production and use has been partly sustained by ethanol exports, as declining gasoline use and limits to blending ethanol have curbed domestic use.
Brazil’s second-crop corn has received exceptionally favorable rains in areas like Mato Grosso, where the dry season normally cuts corn yield potential. The huge second crop more than offsets reduced first-crop area and below-trend first-crop yields, boosting the total corn production to record levels. For the first time, second-crop yields are estimated higher than first-crop yields, with second-crop accounting for nearly half of corn production. Partly offsetting is a 0.5-million-ton reduction for corn production in Argentina, to 21.0 million as excessive rains and flooding have delayed the corn harvest and caused some yield loses. (Source: USDA)
Here is the list of states in the lowest tear from this latest Bureau of Economic Analysis Report:
New Jersey -.5
New Mexico .2
Experts in the state of Nebraska are stumped by the report, since the hype has all been positive about high agricultural returns last year. Creighton’s economist Ernie Goss who does the Rural Mainstreet Reports says he can’t explain it.
I have to wonder whether Nebraska might be exporting its Ag profits at the expense of its land and aquifer. Though it’s known as a “farm state”, agriculture isn’t that big of an employer or income generator in Nebraska. It always surprises people when they learn that Omaha is the headquarters for five Fortune 500 companies. The famous rich man “I’ll-let-you-pay-millions-for-the-privilege-of-taking-me-out-for-lunch” Warren Buffett certainly doesn’t employ many people in his office. Agribusinesses headquartered elsewhere collect much farm profit when Ag inputs are high. Ethanol, one of the main drivers of the Nebraska farm economy right now employs few people and the plants are often owned by agribusinesses like ADM. Unemployment rates in Nebraska, always touted as so fabulously “low”, in reality are low because people quickly leave brain-drain states if they don’t have jobs. Yes, real estate and farmland prices are strong but that’s on paper, and houses are still cheap compared to the rest of the country. Nebraska is known as a tax-me state. Aging and conservative populations don’t help with the velocity of money, either.
Is this a nonstory? I don’t think so. The story here is that our natural resources of Midwestern topsoil and water are being mined without all that much local economic gain, even with the gimmee corn ethanol mandate which has about tripled corn prices. What might surprise many is that farm income was only 5.7% of Nebraska income in 2008 and agriculture represented only 6.8% of Nebraska’s GDP in 2008. The environmental destruction of the region due to agriculture contributes to its brain drain and aging demographics.
Nebraska is the third largest corn producing state after Iowa and Illinois. It is using 45.6 million acres, or 92.7 percent of its land for farming (and ranching) on a total of 47,200 farms. Corn and soybeans are grown on 32 percent of that land. Nebraska has the most irrigated acres of any state at 8.6 million.
Frank and Deborah Popper, help me out here.
Hillel traveled to the U.S. for high school, undergraduate, and master’s degrees and then returned to Israel to work for the Agriculture Ministry in 1951. He earned his PhD in soil physics and ecology at the Hebrew University in 1957.
His concept of micro-irrigation was embraced by the FAO of the United Nations, which then helped teach the system to many regions of the world, including the Middle East.
As he accepted the prize, Hillel said, “The task of improving the sustainable management of the earth’s finite and vulnerable soil, water and energy resources for the benefit of humanity while sustaining the natural biotic community and its overall environmental integrity is an ongoing and increasingly urgent challenge.”
Now days Hillel splits his time between Israel and New York and is a senior research scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies at the Columbia University Earth Institute in New York. He’s focusing on global climate change, deforestation and land degradation.
Japan imports 60 percent of its food, its farming population is aged, the values of the youth are changing, and its ministry is questioning production methods used there. It would make more sense to import the food that they need from more efficient world agricultural producers but they worry about their national food security. (9 minutes)
Here’s a Greenhorn book review by Whitney Scott:
Essays on the spirituality and physicality of farming; the skill-building and life lessons accompanying the increased connection to the earth; and improved self-sufficiency define the Greenhorn movement. Fleming, founder and director of this group promoting young farmers, joins other Greenhorns and biodynamic farm enthusiasts in gathering writings on farming as an expression of patriotism and hope, addressing local food surety and self-reliance advocates, and farmers new and established, all connected in a reconstitution of a local, resilient, and delicious food system. Financing, tools, and community are major categories. Draft-powered farmer Alyssa Jumars writes that she’s never felt so alive as behind the great ass of a draft horse, and Jon Piana praises community effort turning a weeks-long harvest into an hour’s labor. Charming line drawings reinforce the anthology’s texts, supplemented by a far-ranging list of resources. Readers will also be interested in the documentary film The Greenhorns.
Note to any potential commenters. It appears there’s some kind of glitch right now making comments disappear. Hopefully this will be fixed soon.
RJS reported this to me & sent his comment by Email:
did a few quick searches & couldnt find anything specific that would account for that nebraska anomaly, but a few things come to mind…this is year over year growth, so if nebraska had relatively good years during the depth of the recession, they may be growing relatively less at this point – ie, look at these fast growers: michigan, which was once down over 10%, or california, who’s underemployment rate is still over 11% – both of them are better than last year but they’re still virtual basket cases…the BEA release says state GDP is computed the same way as national; so nominally, 70 to 72% of US GDP is PCE (personal consumption expenditures), and most quarters i’ve reviewed national numbers the increase in investment (equipment, software & reral estate) is negated by decreases in state & local spending and net trade (exports-imports; negative for the US as a whole) so PCE ends up carrying 90% or more of the load…
here’s your statistical details, if you want to dig any deeper
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