Michigan Corn Growers Respond to Bush

By: Lauren Zakalik Email
By: Lauren Zakalik Email

Michigan ranks 11th in the nation for corn production, growing more than 2 million acres a year. And after hearing Bush's 20-in-10 plan, local corn growers are poised to pick up the pace.

"If it pays to plant corn, which it does, you're going to see acreage this spring move from other crops to corn," says Michigan Corn Growers Association executive director Jody Pollok.

Corn is a major source of ethanol, which is used for E-85 fuel. Pollok says the three ethanol plants in Michigan, and a potential 8 on the way, are testimonial to the state's corn-growing potential.

"This is an opportunity to look at the ethanol industry, and grow and develop ethanol for the industry that's going to stay here," Pollok says.

But the price of corn has doubled in the past year, and as a result, the state Director of Agriculture Mitch Irwin says every-day food items like beef and cereal will soon jump in price.

"Livestock folks are concerned about money for feeding their livestock, companies that manufacture corn products are worried about money for cereals on the table," says Irwin.

Pollok disagrees.

"The corn we grow goes into livestock feed, not into food production."

Regardless, Irwin says work is already being done to make ethanol from other sources, like switchgrass, wood fiber and sugarbeets.

"Corn is not the answer in the future and by itself," Irwin says. "We're going to see more and more alternatives to corn-based ethanol."

There is something Irwin and Pollok can both agree on: Michigan has a real place in the ethanol market.

"We put the world on wheels," Irwin says. "We now can lead the way to alternative fuels of the future."


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