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2007 Ag Census: Who Grows All The Fucking Corn?

by: Jill Richardson

Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 00:36:53 AM PST

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About 50% of the acres harvested in the U.S. in 2007 were planted in corn and soy. Another 36% of the acres harvested were planted in wheat and hay. Veggies made up only 1.5% of the harvested acres in the U.S.; orchard crops (fruit and tree nuts) made up 1.6%. So who's growing all this fucking corn? Are small farmers equally as guilty as the biggest farms out there? Take a look:

Farm Size% of Sales($) From Corn% of Sales($) from Wheat% of Sales($) from Soy
1-9 acres0.2%0.0%0.1%
10-49 acres0.8%0.1%0.5%
50-69 acres1.5%0.2%0.9%
70-99 acres3.0%0.3%1.7%
100-139 acres3.9%0.4%2.3%
140-179 acres5.2%0.8%3.5%
180-219 acres6.2%0.7%3.7%
220-259 acres7.4%0.8%4.4%
260-499 acres10.9%1.3%6.1%
500-999 acres16.2%2.0%8.8%
1000-1999 acres21.1%4.0%11.2%
2000+ acres18.2%8.6%8.0%
All Farms13.4%3.66.8%

Because this table is measured in sales dollars as a percent of all sales dollars, you can't tell how many acres were planted of each crop. You CAN tell whose business is more reliant on corn, wheat, and soy though. And that's obvious: the bigger you are, the more likely you are to grow corn, wheat, and soy.

Jill Richardson :: 2007 Ag Census: Who Grows All The Fucking Corn?
There are two factors that can help you transform sales dollars into acres: how many dollars per bushel or pound of a crop, and how many bushels or pounds per acre? The USDA features some handy data about corn, wheat, and soy prices in 2007. According to that site, the average corn price in 2007 was $3.40/bu. Here's another interesting tidbit from the site:

Field corn is the predominant corn type grown in the U.S., and it is primarily used for animal feed. Currently, less than 10 percent of the U.S. field corn crop is used for direct domestic human consumption in corn-based foods such as corn meal, corn starch, and corn flakes, while the remainder is used for animal feed, exports, ethanol production, seed, and industrial uses. Sweet corn, both white and yellow, is usually consumed as immature whole-kernel corn by humans and also as an ingredient in other corn-based foods, but makes up only about 1 percent of total U.S. corn production.

The USDA site also says that 4.1% of U.S. corn goes for high fructose corn syrup. That means that since 29.9% of all U.S. cropland harvested was planted in corn in 2007, 1.2% of all U.S. cropland harvested in 2007 went for high fructose corn syrup. That's only slightly less than the 1.5% of U.S. cropland devoted to vegetables or the 1.6% of U.S. cropland devoted to orchards. How totally and completely sad.

For corn in 2007, the U.S. averaged 151.1 bu/acre. Therefore, $1000 in corn sales translates to 294 bushels, or 1.95 acres.

For wheat, in 2007, the U.S. averaged 40.2 bu/acre and the average price was $4.26/bu. Therefore, $1000 of sales of wheat represents 234.7 bushels or 5.84 acres.

As for soy, in 2007, the price was $10.40 per bushel. In 2006, the U.S. averaged 41.7 bushels of soy per acre. In other words, $1000 of soy sales translates to 96.2 bushels, or 2.31 acres.

In other words, we look at the sales numbers and translate them into acreage (on average) to find out how what percent of acreage went to each crop.

My numbers might not be exact but they are pretty darn close. Here's what I got:

Farm Size% of Acres in Corn% of Acres in Wheat% of Acres in Soy
1-9 acres10.4%0.8%7.1%
10-49 acres7.3%2.1%5.2%
50-69 acres8.8%3.2%6.5%
70-99 acres12.8%4.0%8.7%
100-139 acres13.8%4.4%9.5%
140-179 acres17.5%6.6%12.0%
180-219 acres17.6%5.7%12.5%
220-259 acres19.9%6.3%13.9%
260-499 acres24.3%8.4%16.2%
500-999 acres30.3%11.4%19.6%
1000-1999 acres30.7%17.4%19.3%
2000+ acres23.0%32.4%12.0%
All Farms25.1%20.0%15.1%

And what about fruits and veggies?

Fruits & Tree Nuts (% of Sales $)
1-9 acres: 4.1%
10-49 acres: 7.4%
50-69 acres: 7.8%
70-99 acres: 7.4%
100-139 acres: 8.2%
140-179 acres: 8.5%
180-219 acres: 7.7%
220-259 acres: 8.4%
260-499 acres: 7.0%
500-999 acres: 5.4%
1000-1999 acres: 4.5%
2000+ acres: 6.4%
Avg for all sizes: 6.3%

Veggies and Melons (% of Sales $)
1-9 acres: 1.9%
10-49 acres: 1.9%
50-69 acres: 1.8%
70-99 acres: 2.0%
100-139 acres: 2.2%
140-179 acres: 1.8%
180-219 acres: 2.2%
220-259 acres: 2.4%
260-499 acres: 2.8%
500-999 acres: 3.9%
1000-1999 acres: 5.8%
2000+ acres: 9.0%
Avg for all sizes: 4.9%

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Thanks, wanna highlight this... (4.00 / 5)
The USDA site also says that 4.1% of U.S. corn goes for high fructose corn syrup. That means that since 29.9% of all U.S. cropland harvested was planted in corn in 2007, 1.2% of all U.S. cropland harvested in 2007 went for high fructose corn syrup. That's only slightly less than the 1.5% of U.S. cropland devoted to vegetables or the 1.6% of U.S. cropland devoted to orchards. How totally and completely sad.

Ugghh.  I'm gonna go have an apple and some roasted hazelnuts...

Great work, Jill!

Northern States - Short Season, Dry Climate (4.00 / 4)
The northern states such as ND, SD, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska grow the wheat, soy, and corn.  One reason they do is because the growing season is so short and the climate is fairly dry making it difficult to grow fruit and veggies. In ND the growing season is almost too short for corn.

Most of the farmers that I know farm 1000+ acres, but because the profit margin is so slim they need to farm many acres in order to make enough money to survive. They are not rich people, and they work 12+ hour days. One of my friends describes farming as taking a $250,000 gamble each year, betting that crop prices will not drop, expenses will not rise, and the weather will produce rain at the right time.

Excuse me? FUCKING corn? (4.00 / 5)
I really have take exception to your mischaracterization of the types of corn shown being grown here, sis.

Almost all of this corn is of the non-fucking type. Neutered ass hybrids if not outright Frankenstinian GMO shit.

I'm growing fucking (open pollinated) corn this year as an example for some of those growing the non-fucking type. Ok, pardon the interuption, great stuff, carry on...

best. comment. ever. nt (4.00 / 3)

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

[ Parent ]
Excuse me, too : Ass hybrids? (4.00 / 4)
Corn doesn't even have an ass.

What I think's really sick about the whole thing is that some hybrids aren't even crossed from two inbred populations of parents.  They can be a cross from two populations of inbred and clonally-propagated genetic individuals.

Kinky.  For corn, anyway.  

Talk about narrowing a crop's genetic diversity.

At least normal cultivars propagate by just going wild with every other plant in the field.

OMG, bees are cool.

[ Parent ]
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