Researchers from Purdue and Stanford university have found that climate change is likely to have far greater influence on the volatility of corn prices over the next three decades than factors that recently have been blamed for price swings — like oil prices, trade policies and government biofuel mandates.
The findings, published this week in the journal Nature Climate Change, show that severely hot conditions in corn-growing regions and extreme climate events that are expected to impact supply would cause swings in corn prices. When coupled with federal mandates for biofuel production, the price volatility could increase by about 50 percent over the period from 2020-2040 as compared to recent history.
Under current rules, the federal government requires an increasing amount of ethanol and other biofuels be produced each year and blended with gasoline. Currently 39 percent of the nation's corn crop is used for ethanol, of which about one-third returns to the food system in the form of by-products fed to livestock.