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Corn supply, and its effect on food prices

A corn field is inundated with floodwater May 13, 2011 near Carter, Miss.

Bob Moon: Well this morning the Department of Agriculture told us all the natural disasters that have been going on will impact food prices.

And as our sustainability reporter Adriene Hill tells us, things will get worse.


Adriene Hill: The rising Missouri River is threatening hundreds of thousands of acres of corn and soybeans in the Midwest. Land that...

John Anderson: Is among the most productive farmland in the country.

John Anderson is a senior economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation. He says it's too early to know the damage the water will cause. But analysts are watching this flood closely because:

Anderson: Corn stocks are at a historically tight level.

I ask analyst Darin Newsom from Telvent DTN why the rest of us should care about corn supply. He says it's quite simple: corn is in nearly everything food-related.

Darin Newsom: In some way, shape or form, most everything agricultural, or that food that we eat, or items that we buy, can be traced sooner or later back to corn.

Our soda has corn syrup, our beef eats corn, and on and on. So, it goes like this: the bigger the flood, the tighter the corn supply. The tighter the corn supply, the higher the cost of corn. And the higher the cost of corn, the more we pay for our groceries.

I'm Adriene Hill for Marketplace.

About the author

Adriene Hill is a senior multimedia reporter for the Marketplace sustainability desk, with a focus on consumer issues and the individual relationship to sustainability and the environment.
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corn is in everything, even things that it clearly does not belong in.....we feed farmed fish GMO corn, for God's sake, and why? because it is CHEAP, CHEAP, CHEAP.....it certainly isn't because it's part of their natural diet; and speaking of God, maybe this is His way of saying, wake the Hell up, people!!!

While this is a tragedy for the individual farmers this is also a wonderful opportunity to reduce our reliance on corn. If the farmland is so productive, it can be used to grow anything. The US food industry is a monocultural disaster. These farmers should diversify when they replant. What we don't need is all this corn. Why is it in all our products? Because people have been paid by the USG for 50 years to grow unneeded corn and scientists have gotten very clever about finding ways to use it. These subsidies go back to policies set up at the end of WWII. Hey, it's 2011 - time to change! And, while we're at it - let's do something about our environmentally damaging meat industry.....

I can't say this is terrible news. Perhaps this is just the impetus that our "where's the beef?" high-fructose- corn-syrup-addicted population needs to get a wake up call. Same goes for the ridiulous and artifical market created by ethanol production.

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