Lowest Corn Reserves in 15 Years — Food Prices to Rise

The New York Times noted in an article yesterday that food prices are expected to rise this year as a result of significantly lower supplies of corn reserves — the lowest since 1996 — and a higher use of corn for ethanol. The food vs. fuel tug continues, with the ethanol mandate, the ethanol tax credit, plus massive subsidies causing more and more corn to be diverted to ethanol production rather than food. (See CEI colleague Brian McGraw’s post today.)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced February 9 that U.S. corn stocks are projected to be 70 million bushels lower this month, while the use of corn for food, seed, and industrial use will be higher than expected. USDA also said that corn for ethanol use is expected to be 50 million bushels higher — with a record ethanol production for December and January.

With corn prices almost doubling from six months ago, USDA is projecting that those food items most affected by corn used for feedstock will rise in 2011. Thus, pork prices are likely to rise 3.5 to 4.5 percent, beef prices, 2.5 to 3.5 percent, poultry prices, 2 to 3 percent, egg prices, 2.5 to 3.5 percent, and dairy, 4.5 to 5.5 percent.

Check out this and some of the extensive articles CEI has published on the unintended consequences of the ethanol program.