Corn Farmers Sell Waste as Livestock Feed

Corn farmers across the Midwest, still recovering from this summers’ devastating drought, are making the best of a bad situation, and selling the stalks of their ruined crops as livestock feed.

For most of the spring and summer, farmers across the country experienced the worst drought in recent memory. From California to Ohio, farmers experienced record high temperatures and record low rainfall, leading to massive crop losses. Nationwide, more than 1,000 counties were declared federal disaster areas and more than 1/5 of the country is still experiencing extreme to severe drought conditions.

While crop insurance programs protected many corn farmers, some are finding innovative ways to recover from major crop losses. Across the Midwest, corn farmers have found use for corn stover, the leftover stalks of corn typically left in fields after a harvest, as livestock feed.

A recent report by the Missouri Department of Agriculture shows that corn stover has been selling between $60 and $100 a ton (about $35 to $45 per large bale). There are virtually no numbers to track the change in these sales, since various state agencies and the National Agriculture Statistical Service do not track stover sales (and do not consider it a farm commodity).

While selling stover has been beneficial to corn farmers and to livestock farmers hurting for animal feed, there is a downside to this innovative harvest. Removing stover from fields increases soil erosion and removes major nutrients, which can lead to long-term damage to farmland.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer