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Corn Growers Struggle Amid Decreased Ethanol Demand

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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 the Illinois Corn Marketing Board

Approximately 40% 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, the demand for ethanol.

According to Jeschke, corn growers were hopeful the price of corn would surpass $4.00/bushel. However, with current corn 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 to close 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.

Editor’s note: Paul Jeschke is a donor to WILL.

Follow Dana on Twitter: @DanaHCronin

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Dana Cronin

Dana Cronin

Dana Cronin covers food and agriculture for Illinois Newsroom. Her work has reached both national and regional audiences through WILL's partnership with Harvest Public Media, an ag-focused Midwest reporting collaborative. Prior to Illinois Newsroom, she worked at NPR headquarters in Washington D.C. and for other member stations including KQED in San Francisco and 91.5 KRCC in Colorado Springs, CO. ➤ DCronin@illinois.edu@DanaHCronin

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