Information NELSON vs. MONSANTO

April 20, 2001

ACGA: Congress should investigate drop in corn exports; warns GMO policy threatens farmers, economy

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The American Corn Growers Association (ACGA) is warning U.S. farm and government leaders that their anti-export policies regarding GMOs, combined with current failed farm policy, is a major threat to the economic health of rural America.

"As the week of March 9 came to a close U.S. corn growers heard more bad news that can only be described as negative for corn prices," said Keith Dittrich, ACGA president and corn farmer from Tilden, Neb. "Japan and South Korea are buying non-GMO corn from Brazil and China instead of buying U.S. corn."

USDA lowered its corn export forecast by another 50 million bushels and the ACGA expects it will lower the forecast again, according to Dittrich.

"The reduction is a direct result of GMOs in general and their unacceptability with world buyers. It's good to see that USDA and other farm groups recognize the problem with StarLink in the seed supply, but the problem is bigger than StarLink," added Dittrich. "For a number of years now the ACGA has been sounding the alarm with farmers and their organizations, farm groups, the grain industry and the government and saying these problems were coming explaining that these problems were inevitable."

International news services reported that Brazil is basking in a confluence of bullish factors for its corn export program, a weak and still falling currency and fears over biotechnology among some of the world's largest corn importers. As the result of their weaker currency, compared to the U.S. dollar, Brazil is offering corn at a $10 per ton cheaper FOB export price than U.S. prices. One estimate says that Brazil may export more than a million metric tons of corn this year in direct competition with the U.S.

"U.S. farmers cannot be expected to pick up the tab for a wrongheaded, shortsighted U.S. biotech policy that suggests foreign consumers and importers will ultimately be forced to accept GMOs," said Dittrich. "Nor should our farmers be expected to accept an 'economic suspense' scenario about future farm policy while the Administration and Congress pass massive tax cuts that can only jeopardize future farm program funding.

"These two policies are throwing away our export markets while driving down corn prices and driving up federal farm program costs," he added. "Both policies are major failures. They need to be changed quickly before their negative impact is reflected in land values and the farm economy is thrown into a major collapse."

The ACGA recommends Congress immediately investigate this drop in exports and related drop in prices and that the investigation should focus on the effects of GMO's on the marketplace and the failures of the current and past farm bills on increasing export market share of basic commodities.

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