Governor on corn prices: ‘Let market work’


August 1st, 2012

Omaha, NE – Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman is currently on a trade mission in China to help build foreign investments in Nebraska. But in a conference call with reporters from Shaanxi province Tuesday, he fielded an array of questions dealing with issues back home, including a lingering drought that continues to impact the Midwest.

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One of those impacts is the rising cost of corn. Heineman along with several other Governors have been pressed by livestock lobbyists to petition the federal government to waive a requirement for ethanol-blend gasoline. What’s known as the Renewable Fuel Standard is putting added pressure on corn prices, and the lobbyists argue that’s helping to drive up the cost of feed for livestock producers. But on a conference call with reporters, Heineman didn’t seem to be affected by the pressure.

USDA crop progress reports show the ‘good to excellent’ rating for corn condition nationally has fallen two percentage points and the ‘poor to very poor’ rating rising three points in the last week. (Photo courtesy Wikimedia)

“I appreciate the concerns the livestock industry has,” Heineman said. “But no, we do not intend to ask for a waiver. At this stage we need to let the market work, and eventually we’ll get back to the proper balance.”

Heineman said he is “very aware of the challenges here when the price of corn shoots up like it has” but he doesn’t think a waiver is “the appropriate way to go at this time.”

Heineman said ethanol producers in Nebraska are still breaking even, and he doesn’t think corn prices are at a crisis stage yet. However, he lauded Nebraskans for their endurance and said Nebraska has a natural defense against drought in its underground aquifers.

“Probably the one thing that’s saving us, maybe compared to Illinois or Indiana, is that we have irrigation,” Heineman said. “We are the most irrigated state in America now, so I think that is helping.”

Heineman said he thinks Nebraska will still produce a significant corn and soybean crop. “I am hopeful we can get through this,” he said.

The Governor will continue his trip across China this week, with stops in Beijing and Shanghai.

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