A study released this week estimates that increased corn prices "driven by rapidly expanding" U.S. ethanol production have increased U.S. retail food prices by $14 billion annually. The study also projected the following U.S. commodity impacts if season-average corn prices over a 10-year period ending in 2016 increased to $4.42/bu. (which the study projects would occur if crude oil prices range from $65-70/barrel), compared to the $2/bu. corn price that existed in mid-2006:

Beef: Retail beef prices would increase 4% and production would decline by 1.6%. Significantly, since the study projects that the price of distillers dried grains with solubles will closely track increasing corn prices, the impacts of such price increases are nearly as significant for beef and dairy as they are for hogs and poultry.

Pork: Production costs would increase 36.8%, production would decline 9.2%, retail prices would increase 8.4% and exports would decline by 21%, reversing 15 consecutive years of pork export growth.

Poultry: Broiler exports would decline by 15%, while turkey exports would fall 6%. Wholesale broiler prices would increase by 15%, retail prices would increase 5% and domestic consumption would decline 4%.

Corn: U.S. planted acreage would increase 44%, from 78 million acres in 2006 to 112.5 million acres. Meanwhile, U.S. corn exports are projected to decline from 2.4 billion bu. currently to as low as 911 million bu. -- a 63% decline.

The study concluded that if the current 54ยข/ga. ethanol import tariff were eliminated, imports of foreign-produced ethanol would increase 136% (314 billion gals. annually to 743 billion gals.). The Iowa State University study was supported by the American Meat Institute, Grocery Manufacturers/Food Products Association, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Grain and Feed Association, National Pork Producers Council, and National Turkey Federation.