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Good news for state farmers - corn prices heading up

PALMYRA - The U.S. Department of Agriculture says corn prices have reached ten-year highs, which should be a boon to farmers across the Midwest.

But some agricultural advocates are cautious about the news.

Season average prices for corn are between $2.25 and $2.65 per bushel, a range not seen since 1996. Analysts say recent drought conditions and increased demand for corn-based ethanol are two key factors.

But the higher prices aren't translating to prices much higher on the farm, according to Bob Oleson, executive director of the Wisconsin Corn Growers Association, based in Palmyra.

He says prices have been depressed until recently because roughly a quarter of last year's harvest was carried over to this year's estimate.

Oleson adds that what crosses the ticker tape from the Chicago Board of Trade isn't the literal payoff for farmers. He says he gets 15 to 20 cents less per bushel that what is reported in Chicago. Currently, he says he's getting 40 cents a bushel less than what's reported in Chicago because there's so much carryover.

Still, Oleson says Wisconsin's corn farmers are in good shape. He says the state has had significant yields in the last year, and he projects the state's overall corn crop will be average to good for 2006.