More corn grown in U.S. this year than ever before. Thanks, biofuels.

From Grist:

By 5 Nov 2013

Cars and cows are slurping up the largest corn crop ever grown in the U.S.

With the fall corn harvest three-quarters done, traders are anticipating a yield of about 14 billion bushels, Bloomberg reports. That exceeds forecasts and is 30 percent greater than last year. Growers are thanking agreeable weather for this year’s early and bountiful harvest, a notable shift after last year’s drought woes.

The amount of land used to cultivate corn has been growing during the past 25 years, displacing grasslands and other crops. Meanwhile, the amount of corn grown per acre has tripled since the 1950s due largely to new varieties and heavy doses of herbicides and fertilizers, which have been polluting waterways and fueling algae blooms.

But the most dramatic change in recent years has been the skyrocketing demand for corn to brew ethanol. That’s not due to a resurgent national appetite for white lightning moonshine. Rather, it’s due to the EPA’s renewable-fuel mandate, a controversial regulation requiring biofuels be blended into gasoline. The mandate was created under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, substantially expanded in 2010, and it continues to be expanded.

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