On the last day of 2008, the South Dakota Corn Growers Association has named the top eight highlights of 2008 for the South Dakota corn industry:
1. Opportunity – Record corn prices topped out at $7.80 per bushel in the middle of the summer. Today the American farmer is getting his marketing opportunity from the open markets and not government programs. USDA has estimated a cost savings of $1.7 billion for farm program payments due to higher corn prices. It has been a very difficult year for producers to market their grain, but there has been huge opportunity.
2. Another record corn crop – For the second year in a row, South Dakota has harvested the largest corn crop in its history. The U.S. Department of Agriculture will release its final production figures in January, but preliminary numbers show much for South Dakota producers to be proud of. Recent estimates indicated South Dakota produced over 555 million bushels of corn, exceeding all previous records. Producers can and will produce the food and fuel our nation needs.
3. S.D. leads the nation with Blender Pump Program – Consumers in South Dakota are reaping the benefits of the first ever blender pump program offered by the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council (SDCUC) in partnership with the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC). Thanks to the efforts of these groups, today 45 stations have completed applications and there are now 34 operational blender pumps in 35 different cities across South Dakota. This program places South Dakota in second place, behind Minnesota, for the total number of blender pumps available to consumers. South Dakota led the nation with the grants and now similar programs are being duplicated in Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri.
4. 1 billion gallons of ethanol in S.D. – South Dakota’s ethanol production capacity exceeded all expectations in 2008 when new ethanol plants came online and existing plants increased production to bust through the 1 billion gallon mark!
5. New Farm Bill passed – Ag producers have a new Farm Bill which passed in 2008! The innovative ACRE program contained in the Farm Bill will provide a new, optional risk management tool for farmers. The program delivers payments to producers facing losses in crop revenue caused by adverse weather conditions and declining prices. Enrollment for the 2009 crop will begin in the spring. Recently the USDA announced that the two-year price average for the 2009 crop will be based on the 2007 and 2008 crop years to calculate the price component of the program, which is something the SDCGA fought for and is a huge victory for producers.
6. Dairy industry expands in S.D. – Livestock is corn’s number one consumer and this segment in South Dakota is rich with opportunity. The shining light in livestock growth has steadily been seen in the dairy industry. Dairy cattle also utilize DDGS from our state’s ethanol plants. Here is the good news about South Dakota’s expanding dairy numbers:
- 2005 – 81,000 cows
- 2006 – 85,000 cows
- 2007 – 89,000 cows
- 2008 – 91,000 cows (thru September 30th) *The projected number for the end of 2008 is 93,000 cows, due to a new dairy started in December and an expansion at another in November.
7. RFS Maintained – 2008 opened with a celebrated Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) upon which producers based their production plans. But a multi-million dollar public relations smokescreen orchestrated by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) last spring to push for the elimination of the RFS threatened this safety net. However, the effort was squelched by overwhelming evidence in favor of corn and ethanol which disproved their claims that the driving force behind the increase in food costs was the heightened demand for biofuels; and thus the USDA maintained the RFS.
8. Food vs. Fuel smear campaign revealed – The GMA continued to lose traction and their smear campaign was revealed as the price of corn declined by half this Fall yet prices on the grocery shelves didn’t budge. With the evaporation of its excuse of higher food prices, the food industry has not responded. Interestingly, Big Food Companies like Kraft and Kellogg’s have recorded record profits.