One-third of corn acres planted in 2004 in GMOs, survery finds

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 16, 2004 -- CropChoice news: A new nationwide survey of U.S. corn farmers found that they planted only 34.4 percent of their total corn acres to genetically modified (GMO), biotech varieties in 2004. Robinson and Muenster Associates, Inc. of Sioux Falls, South Dakota conducted the survey for the American Corn Growers Foundation (ACGF) Farmer Choice-Customer First program during June of 2004.

Five hundred farmers were polled in the sixteen top corn producing states that represent 92 percent of 2004 corn acreage for harvest, according to an Aug.12 USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service Crop Production Report. Farmers surveyed had at least one hundred acres of corn. The random, scientific and statistically valid survey has a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. The 500 farmers reported planting 208,414 total acres to corn, with 71,633 of those acres, or 34.4 percent planted to GMO varieties, compared to the 32.2 percent that those same farmers reported planting to GMO varieties in 2003. The states included in the survey were: Iowa, Ill., Neb., Minn., Ind., Ohio, S. D., Wisc., Kan., Mo., Mich., Ky., Texas, Colo., N. D. and Pa.

A March USDA prospective planting survey of corn farmers, done before corn planting was underway, projected that 46 percent of corn acres would be planted to GMO varieties in 2004. After planting was completed and the seed was in the ground the ACGF survey found 34.4 percent.

“This survey suggests that U.S. corn farmers may well be taking the concerns and demands of foreign consumers and importers into account in their planting decisions by holding their GMO corn acres to only about a third of the total acres they planted to corn this year,” said Dan McGuire, CEO of the ACGF. “Given the corn supply and demand reports issued last Thursday by the USDA showing only 1.925 billion bushels of corn exports this marketing year and with new crop corn prices in the $1.80 per bushel range in South Dakota, U.S. corn farmers are right to be concerned about the U.S. holding on to foreign markets. Farmers understand that lost markets increase corn inventories and larger corn stocks push prices down.”

An Aug. 12, 2004 USDA crop supply and demand report showed the estimated average corn price received by farmers in the current 2003/2004 marketing year, which ends on August 31, to be $2.40 per bushel, with an average per acre corn yield in 2003 of 142.2 bushels. USDA now projects the 2004 average corn yield to be a record 148.9 bushels per acre with an average farm price of $2.25 per bushel for the new 2004/2005 marketing year beginning Sept. 1, 2004 and ending Aug. 31, 2005.

McGuire added, “Even with the projected record yield for 2004, farmers will average $5.51 less gross corn income per acre than in 2003 because of lower prices. The 142 bushel per acre yield in 2003, at the average price of $2.40, would have provided gross per acre income of $340.80, while the projected 149 bushel, record average per acre yield for 2004, at the average price of $2.25, will generate only $335.29 per acre, and of course many farmers will get less than that average price and have lower than average yields. Low corn prices have not delivered increased corn exports as promoted by advocates of current farm and trade policy. PLUS, attempts by the U.S. government and agribusiness to force foreign markets to accept biotech corn varieties has not been a customer-oriented strategy to say the least. It appears that the majority of U.S. corn farmers are putting the customer first and factoring that into their seed choices.”

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