Monday evening the Dakota Rice Corn and Soybean Growers held their annual meeting at Jesse James Lanes in Northfield. It was a normal meeting with the Treasurers Report, Secretary's Report and elections to the board. In addition there were reports about all the activities that the Dakota Rice Corn and Soybean Growers were involved in. The guest speaker was Paul Meints  Ph. D. who is the Research Director for the Minnesota Corn Growers.

Paul talked about research that is being done to find new uses for corn. Big uses of corn include livestock feed, ethanol and exports. We need to find another big use for corn. One that is showing promise is using corn to compete with plastics that are normally made from petroleum. Plastic can be made from corn but up to this point it is more expensive than using petroleum.

Corn can easily be used to make poly lactic acid (PLA.) It is a simple fermentation process. The difficulty is cheaply converting PLA into durable plastic that can compete with petroleum based plastic. Great progress has been made where you can put PLA in a large vat with the right chemicals and let reactions take place to convert the PLA into durable plastic.

This would be a huge new market for corn. This will not help the demand for corn or prices today, next month or next year, but it is coming! Plastic made from corn is renewable and very environmentally friendly. It takes thousands of years for crude oil to form underground. Petroleum based plastic put in a land fill takes hundreds of years to decompose. Farmers will plant another corn crop the next year. Plastic made from corn will decompose in a land fill in 2 or 3 years.

I am sure you have heard the concern about plastic being dumped in the ocean and land-fills. The Minnesota Corn Growers have invested check-off dollars in this research along with the National Corn Growers. Farmers pay into the check-off every time a bushel of corn is sold. Yes, farmers are investing their own money trying to develop new uses for corn!


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