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Skyrocketing corn prices harm catfish, cattle farmers

MISSISSIPPI - Increased prices for corn will hurt Mississippi catfish and cattle producers who use the crop for feed while some farmers are planning to invest more acres in the crop.

Memphis grain buyers were paying $4.02 per bushel this week for corn. Normally, corn might sell for $2.25 per bushel, said John Anderson, associate professor of agricultural economics at Mississippi State University.

“In the market, corn prices are basically the highest they’ve been in 10 years, since the 1995-96 market year,” Anderson said. “Corn demand has been very good. That’s what’s different about this market — 1995-96 was a shortage of corn. Right on the heels of historically large crops, we have these historically high prices.”

Higher demand for corn this year is spurred by the increased production of ethanol, a fuel additive, made with corn. The federal government mandate to replace the gasoline additive MTBE, a carcinogen, with ethanol, spiked demand. That demand was heightened further when ethanol gained attention as an alternative fuel. The government also has given financial incentives for ethanol production.

Mississippi corn growers produced 110 bushels per acre for a total yield of 35.8 million bushels in 2006, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates.

President Bush said Tuesday during his State of the Union address that he would like American gas consumption to drop by 20 percent in 10 years through alternative forms of energy.

Source: Hattiesburg American

the Fish Site Editor

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