Midwest corn growers upbeat after floods

By Sarah Hills

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Maize

Corn growers in the US have begun replanting crops after record
floods threatened this year's harvest in the Midwest and forced
food plants to close.

Flood waters in Iowa, which is North America's top producing corn state, are just beginning to recede and the damage is being assessed, according to Mindy Williamson, spokeswoman for the Iowa Corn Growers Association. She told FoodNavigator-usa.com: "Corn growers are out replanting corn and actually the crop doesn't look too bad. It still has a lot of the growing season to recover. "A new report for the nationwide crop situation will be published by the United States Department of Agriculture on June 30 and we will be waiting to see where the entire corn crop sits." In 2007 Iowa accounted for 18 per cent of total corn production in the US and there are fears the flooding could result in higher corn prices. At one point this week corn futures for July neared $8 per bushel. However, the price yesterday was $7.27, according to the Chicago Board of Trade. In Iowa 93 food and beverage industry plants were at risk from flooding, according to Industrial Info Resources, based in Texas. In the Cedar Rapids area, some companies were forced to close their plants including Cargill, Penford, Quaker and Swiss Valley Farms. Cargill this week declared "force majeure" at its Cedar Rapids corn milling plant, a measure which exempts firms from meeting contractual obligations because of circumstance beyond their control, on some corn syrup contracts. The company said the closure is temporary but unavoidable following the severe floods there. A Cargill statement said: "This means that Cargill will not be able to meet all of its customers' contracted volumes, and supply of corn syrup from Cargill will be limited until further notice." However, the floods had not hit its high corn fructose syrup (HCFS) production so the measure did not extend to its contracts for HCFS. Penford Products' Cedar Rapids plant was shut down on June 12 and the company said it was still too early to estimate total damage costs or when its will become fully operational. Penford Corporation develops, manufactures and markets natural-based ingredient systems for a variety of food and industrial applications. It said the only product for food that is produces at this plant is dextrose. Its potato starch manufacturing operations supporting its North American Food Ingredients business were not affected. It is estimated that recent floods have affected tens of thousands of people and flooded three million acres in Iowa alone. Monsanto, which is based in St. Louis, donated $1million to the American Red Cross in support of Iowa flood relief efforts. Hugh Grant, Monsanto chairman, president and chief executive officer, said: "The tragedy is severe, and the need is tremendous. "Our farmer customers and their families have already experienced flooded homes, flooded fields and terrible hardships, and we must help." Monsanto provides technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality. It employs 1,180 people at 20 facilities across the state of Iowa. The company's largest facility is at Muscatine, Iowa, which employs 500 people.

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