March 22, 2007 - Posted at 4:19 p.m. CDT
JONESBORO-This year, more rice farmers are becoming corn farmers.
The reason is money.
The Cooperative Extension Service is predicting record yields of corn crops this year.
"The demand is large. I've heard as much at 20-percent of the entire corn crop may be used this year," said Steve Culp of the Craighead County Extension Office.
That demand is being brought on by a National push to make fuel more efficient and environmentally friendly.
"The administration has requested that more ethanol and bio diesel be produced. There are a lot of plants under construction and progress going on right now," said Culp.
That progress is creating new opportunities for Arkansas farmers as well as the state's economy.
THE ARKANSAS COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE SAYS THIS YEAR THE AMOUNT OF ACREAGE FOR CORN PRODUCTION COULD DOUBLE TO MORE THAN 500-THOUSAND ACRES. THAT'S GOOD NEWS TO THOSE WHO PRODUCE CORN FOR THEIR LIVING.
"I am probably planting 30-percent more corn this year than I have in the past."
Keith Dooley has been farming corn for the last four years.
As he loads his tractor with seed, he says corn farming has been a good investment.
"It was a good move for me personally. I farm a small farming operation and can get by with just part time labor. Without the labor intensive crops like rice is, like cotton is, it works for me a whole lot better," said Dooley.
Whether it be the economy or the environment, everyone should reap the benefits of this boom in crop production.
"Overall it is good for agriculture, and hopefully this will be a component of the bio fuels that will help," said Culp.