Ethanol Boom Sinking Corn in the Land of Cotton

BLOOMINGTON, IL - An expected corn planting rush to feed growing ethanol deman will spread from the Corn Belt to the land of cotton.

About 90.5 million acres of corn are expected to be planted nationwide this year, the most since 95.5 million acres were planted in 1944.

The top five corn-producing states (Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota and Indiana) account for 5.1 million of the projected 12.2 million new acres of corn.

But the sharpest increases are expected where cotton has been king for generations.

Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi are expected to boost corn acreage by 133 percent to 195 percent.  Combined, the three states are expected to add 1.2 million acres of corn while trimming cotton production by more than a million acres.

Billy Joe Ragland says high corn prices offer a chance to make a little money for a change on his long-time cotton farm in central Mississippi.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)