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Harvest Public Media is a reporting collaboration focused on issues of food, fuel and field. Based at KCUR in Kansas City, Harvest covers these agriculture-related topics through an expanding network of reporters and partner stations throughout the Midwest.Most Harvest Public Media stories begin with radio- regular reports are aired on member stations in the Midwest. But Harvest also explores issues through online analyses, television documentaries and features, podcasts, photography, video, blogs and social networking. They are committed to the highest journalistic standards. Click here to read their ethics standards.Harvest Public Media was launched in 2010 with the support of a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Today, the collaboration is supported by CPB, the partner stations, and contributions from underwriters and individuals.Tri States Public Radio is an associate partner of Harvest Public Media. You can play an important role in helping Harvest Public Media and Tri States Public Radio improve our coverage of food, field and fuel issues by joining the Harvest Network. Learn more here.

Corn Growers Struggle Amid Decreased Ethanol Demand

Elite Octane Ethanol in Atlantic, Iowa, is one of many Midwest plants. The industry has hit some snags in recent years.
Elite Octane Ethanol in Atlantic, Iowa, is one of many Midwest plants. The industry has hit some snags in recent years.

As the price of gasoline plummeted amid COVID-19 restrictions, so has the price of ethanol.


And Midwestern corn farmers are beginning to feel the impacts.


“People like myself have been affected financially tremendously,” says Paul Jeschke, full-time corn farmer and District 5 Director of theIllinois Corn Marketing Board


Approximately40%of corn grown in the U.S. is made into ethanol, which is blended with gasoline to reduce emissions. With most Americans stuck inside amid social distancing and shelter-in-place orders, the demand for gasoline has dropped off, and with it, thedemandfor ethanol.


According to Jeschke, corn growers were hopeful the price of corn would surpass $4.00/bushel. However, withcurrentcorn bids well below that, Jeschke says many growers will have a hard time breaking even this year.

“There’s a lot of fear out here about this corn market and wondering where it’s gonna go from here,” he says.

Some ethanol plants have even been forced toclose down, including in Iowa and Nebraska.

“Each day that’s becoming a more dire situation, and that’s why farmers are more and more nervous about those markets,” says Jeschke.

Follow Dana on Twitter: @DanaHCronin


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