Friday, May 21, 2010

Cost of Biotech Corn and Soybean Seed Backlash

It was no surprise to discover this week's PBS "Nightly Business Report" doing a feature story about large farm operators deciding against using the latest, most expensive, biotech seeds. Biotech seeds took another 42% jump this year, costing $74 an acre for Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybean seed, and $130 an acre for its Genuity SmartStax corn seeds.

If you farm a thousand acres in corn, that would be a $130,000 seed input cost. Add a few Roundup resistant key weeds into the picture and you find farmers have reached the price breaking point leading to the less than surprising decision to go with conventional seeds, in some cases.

To follow is the report with a short video, plus an earlier NYT's article.

Bio-tech Seeds May Never Take Root

...Climbing into his tractor, Paul Taylor is completing a spring ritual, sowing his 1,000 acres of northern Illinois farmland with corn and soybeans. But this year's ritual is different. Instead of planting mostly biotech crops that are genetically engineered to withstand insects and herbicides, Taylor is planting conventional ones. He says the latest biotech seeds are double or triple the price of non-biotech ones.

...About 90 percent of the corn and soybeans that will be produced in the U.S. this year will come from biotech seeds. That's about double what was produced just a decade ago. While biotech crops are still banned in Europe, they have been widely accepted throughout most of the more and watch video

In March, the NYT's had this article:

Rapid Rise in Seed Prices Draws U.S. Scrutiny

During the depths of the economic crisis last year, the prices for many goods held steady or even dropped. But on American farms, the picture was far different, as farmers watched the price they paid for seeds skyrocket. Corn seed prices rose 32 percent; soybean seeds were up 24 percent.

...Including the sharp increases last year, Agriculture Department figures show that corn seed prices have risen 135 percent since 2001. Soybean prices went up 108 percent over that period. By contrast, the Consumer Price Index rose only 20 percent in that period. more

With grain crop profitability margins anticipated to be low again this year, reducing input costs makes sense. That includes fertilizer applications, monitoring and management, too.