Ethanol Demand Inflames Grain Market

'We are simply using corn faster than what we're able to produce it these days, and ethanol of course is the big contributor,' said Dennis Smith, a commodity broker at Archer Financial Services.

Published: 14-Jan-2007

Corn, soybean and wheat prices exploded Friday after the government said corn stockpiles were shrinking fast amid the ethanol boom. The report fanned fears that ethanol was starting to become a runaway train, as corn prices hit a 10-year high.

Corn and wheat prices Friday rose the daily maximum allowed on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soybean prices soared 43 cents a bushel. In Minneapolis, spring wheat futures rose 25 cents a bushel. So in a single day, the markets added one-third of a billion dollars to the value of grain stored in Minnesota's bins and elevators.

"It's being driven by the mania that's going on in ethanol production," said Ed Usset, a grain marketing specialist at the University of Minnesota. "These (corn-based ethanol) plants are going up so fast we can hardly track 'em."

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