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ACGA reminds leaders to include food in strategic planning: America went to war with only five hours worth of corn in reserve

(Tuesday, April 29, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- The following is a news release from the American Corn Growers Association.

Contact: Larry Mitchell (202) 835-0330

The American Corn Growers Association (ACGA) is reminding Congress and the Administration to include food as a key component to the nation's strategic planning for the future. The organization of corn farmers urges the adoption of a better food safety net for the nation by way of a viable grain reserve.

Larry Mitchell, CEO of ACGA explained, "As America planned to go to war with Iraq, the U.S. government had little if any grain in government reserves. In fact, according to inventory figures published be the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), as of March 1, 2003, just days before the invasion of Iraq, there existed only five hours worth of corn in the government's pantry."

The CCC is a Government-owned and operated entity that was created to stabilize, support, and protect farm income and prices. CCC also helps maintain balanced and adequate supplies of agricultural commodities and aids in their orderly distribution.

"The average total usage of corn over the past three years is 9.725 billion bushels per year or about 1.11 million bushels per hour," said Mitchell. "CCC stocks on March 1 included only 5.5 million bushels which represents less than five hours of the nation's needs. The situation for soybeans was not much better with only eight hours of supply on hand. Wheat supplies would have lasted just over 11 days, but now most of the wheat has now been used to provide assistance to the Iraqi people."

"It is imperative that Congress pass, the President enact and the USDA implement a program to allow the Secretary of Agriculture to reinstate the Farmer Owned Reserve (FOR) and provide for a Strategic Energy Grain Reserve for the nation's energy needs, such as ethanol and biodiesel." explained Mitchell. "We cannot afford not to plan for the future. We cannot afford to depend on 'just-in-time delivery' of such strategic necessities as food. We cannot afford to depend on imports of food. We must have a viable plan in place to insure the nation is properly prepared in the event of a catastrophe."

ACGA's support for an FOR, which allows the grain to be stored on farms, is a key component to a safe grain reserve in that the supplies will be decentralized in the event of some unforeseen calamity which might befall the large grain storage terminals. The Strategic Energy Grain Reserve is as crucial for the nation's domestic energy needs as the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. It is also a safety net for farmer-owned cooperatives, which are now producing much of the nation's ethanol and biodeisel needs. ACGA also supports full funding for the replenishment and expansion of Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust.

For more information about CCC inventory see http://www.fsa.usda.gov/daco/wid/imb/wid2a0303.pdf

The American Corn Growers Association represents 14,000 members in 35 states. See http://www.acga.org