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Investing in a big crop

Jeff Caldwell 04/29/2011 @ 11:52am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

What's it take to get a corn crop started? A recent report from the Nebraska Corn Board shows just planting the 2011 crop in that state will take an investment by farmers of $2.6 billion.

"This multi-billion dollar investment, perhaps better known as planting, occurs in just a few weeks every spring," says Nebraska Corn Board director Don Hutchens in a recent report. "It's a tremendous investment, but one that also is subject to Mother Nature and the whims of outside markets."

Take that figure -- $2.6 billion -- and line it up with USDA's corn acreage number for Nebraska from last month's projected plantings report: 9.5 million acres. That means for each acre of corn planted this spring, farmers will invest $273.

So, what's the investment for the top 5 corn-producing states in the U.S.? Last month's USDA report showed those states and their respective acreage totals are:

  • Iowa: 13.9 million acres
  • Illinois: 12.8 million acres
  • Nebraska: 9.5 million acres
  • Minnesota: 7.9 million acres
  • Indiana: 5.9 million acres

That means the total investment by farmers to get this year's corn crop planted adds up to $13.7 billion. For those top 5 states, that breaks down to:

  • Iowa: $3.8 billion
  • Illinois: $3.5 billion
  • Nebraska: $2.6 billion
  • Minnesota: $2.2 billion
  • Indiana: $1.6 billion

What's more, those dollars farmers invest mean more than just getting a crop in the ground, Hutchens says. "Those dollars get circulated through communities and the entire state," he says. " Hutchens said. With a multiplier of 2.5, planting corn this year will actually provide a $6.5 billion economic impact across the state. While the dollars invested in getting the crop off to a good start are impressive, it also doesn’t include the value of that corn crop once it is harvested. From feed to fuel to fiber, that crop is worth a whole lot more than just bushels of grain sold into the market."

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