I'm Tired of People Trying To Make Us Feel Ashamed For Growing Corn

Prairie Gleanings

We're good at growing corn, no need to apologize for that.

Published on: May 18, 2011
In the course of a week, I’ve heard the old “subsidies drive our corn planting decisions” argument on a two separate instances.

I’m not buying it for several reasons. First, I’ve visited numerous Illinois farmers. And, they are darn good at growing corn. Rows are perfectly straight, there’s not a weed to be found and yields consistently top 200 bushels per acre.

Next, have you checked a corn price lately? Today, the nearby futures price jumped over $7 a bushel. I think that says it all.

Still not convinced? Good, I wasn’t done laying out my reasons.

For the old argument, “but cows are supposed to eat grass, not corn.” First, grain-fed cows are delicious. I prefer them over grass-fed any day. Secondly, the cow is a domesticated animal. So, should dogs be eating dog food?

Next, I’d encourage these folks to take a drive across the Cornbelt. They’d see large, flat, black, square chunks of land across most of the I states. Perfect for growing a massive amount of corn. These plots are perfect for row crops, and the weather is perfect for growing corn.

Also, let’s not forget the technological advances for growing corn. Any company looking to roll out a product typically assesses its potential in three major markets: corn, soybeans and cotton. Corn farmers have the money to purchase these technologies. As a result, most companies are looking to develop products that boost corn yields. It only makes sense.

Of course there’s also the growing demand base for feed grains. China and India have growing middle classes that are looking to consume more protein in their diets. They want meat. Meat production needs corn and soybeans. This is a very basic instance of demand driving supply.

Lastly, folks spouting the subsidy argument need to remember each farmer is a business owner. He/she is free to make planting, input and harvest decisions as he/she sees fit. The vast majority of I-state farmers have selected corn/soybean rotations. I’d be willing to bet it’s because that gives them the highest return on their labor and land.

In laying out these reasons, I was happy when one of the folks in the discussion heard my reasoning and agreed it made sense. I wasn’t quite as successful in the other discussion.

When having this discussion, I think our success depends on whether the other party can agree that meat in the diet is a good thing. If they think land is better used growing crops for human consumption, then they’ll argue against corn until the cows come home.

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