Region 8 Farmers Growing More Corn

JONESBORO, AR -- Northeast and Eastern Arkansas is rice country, but as the controversial issue of genetically modified rice continues to cause market problems, Arkansas could become corn country.

"You grow what is most profitable," says John Greer, a Craighead County Rice Farmer.

For Farmer John Greer rice has been at the top of the list, but now thanks to several factors, the price of rice has fallen and corn has gone up. One reason the price of rice is down is the issue of genetically modified rice and it's quite a controversial issue in this business.

"When it was announced the last of August, it made quite of an impact on the price of rice," says Greer.

Some countries don't want the genetically modified rice and that's a big problem when 95% of the rice grown in Region 8 goes overseas. The state plant board recently banned the planting of genetically modified rice.

"I think they can reduce it, but to completely purge it out of the system, I highly have my doubts," says Greer.

Seed companies too are having to make some changes.

"We'll probably see rice acres down 10 to 15% easily. Out of that 10 to 15% acreage reduction, probably 5 to 6% of that will go into corn," says Brent Griffin, a local agronomist.

Griffin says cotton is feeling the pinch as well.

"We're seeing a lot of acres being shifted around now, primarily out of soybean acres and also out of cotton acres," says Griffin.

Farmers are following the basic rules of supply and demand and hoping their new crop will grow into a profit.

"Right now, people that are dealing with soils that corn will produce well with, that is the crop to plant," says John Greer.

Dr. Chuck Wilson, an extension rice specialist with the University of Arkansas will be speaking at the Ag Expo Friday morning at 8:30. His main focus will be to talk to farmers about the developments with genetically modified rice.