Is There a Corn Shortage? Iowa Derecho Damage

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Up to 10 million acres of farmland have been damaged or destroyed in Iowa. This means that 43% of Iowa’s corn and soybean crops have been damaged or destroyed. Below, we are going to talk about how this happened, if there is a corn shortage, and what to do about it. 

What Caused the Crop Damage/Corn Shortage?

There was a powerful storm system that reared its ugly head across the midwest earlier this week (August 2020). It killed two people and caused widespread damage to millions of acres of crops in Iowa. The storm was called a derecho. The derecho traveled from southeast South Dakota all the way to Ohio which is a path of 770 miles, and did so in just 14 hours. 

What is a Derecho?

A derecho is a system of widespread, long-lived wind storms. It is also associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms. When the derecho reached Des Moines, wind gusts were clocked at more than 100 mph. Thus, causing devastation across farmlands. 

Is There a Corn Shortage? Iowa Derecho Damage

How Much Corn Does Iowa Supply?

Iowa supplies a lot of the corn we rely on. In fact, Iowa ranks as number 1 in producing corn, soybeans, hogs, eggs, ethanol, and dry distillers grain solubles. Iowa has about 87,000 farms in the state and produces more corn than some countries. No state grows more corn than Iowa. 

Why Does Iowa Lead in Corn Supply?

Wondering why Iowa produces so much of our corn supply? Iowa has some of the most fertile topsoil on the planet. The soil in Iowa is perfect for growing corn, and thus, that is where most of it is grown. Not to mention, Iowa has some of the world’s finest farmers. 

What Kind of Corn Does Iowa Supply?

Iowa plants and harvests “Field corn.” Field corn is different from the sweet delicious corn on the cob you find at the grocery store. 99% of the corn grown in Iowa is field corn. Only 1% is the sweet corn that we eat. 

Why Do We Need Field Corn?

While the corn grown in Iowa is field corn, it actually has a lot of different uses. 

  • A small percentage of field corn is processed and used for things like corn cereal, corn starch, corn oil, and corn syrup for human consumption. 
  • Field corn is primarily used for livestock feed, ethanol production, and manufactured goods. 
  • Iowa leads the nation in ethanol production. 39% of the corn grown in Iowa goes to create 30% of all American ethanol. 
  • 21% of Iowa corn goes directly into feeding livestock. 
  • 12% of Iowa corn went into corn processing and was used in the wet mill industry for food. 
  • 9% of Iowa’s corn was exported. 
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Is there a Corn Shortage?

Not only did we see the devastation in Iowa, but U.S. corn planting was at its slowest pace in 40-years! There are 18 major corn-producing states in our nation. Of those states, all contemplated planting or not planting this spring. This is due to the weather we have been seeing in the midwest. An unseasonable spring delayed the start of the planting seasons. 

As of right now, we have already had a few setbacks the last couple years with crops. So, we were already running on a shorter supply. The way a corn shortage works is that this year’s harvest would affect us for next year. 

So, currently, we do not have a complete shortage, however, with 43% of crops being destroyed or damaged a month before harvest in Iowa, we are sure to see a corn shortage coming soon. 

What Will a Corn Shortage Look Like?

To put this into perspective, there are 4,000 grocery store items that use corn in them, including things like shampoo, toothpaste, chewing gum, marshmallows, crayons, and paper. Yes, that’s 4,000 items! 

Not only is corn used in 4,000 grocery store items, but this is how we feed our livestock. Without the right amount of corn to make feed, meat farmers will not be able to feed their animals. 

So, what could this look like?

  1. Meat shortages: Less corn for feed means fewer animals being fed and less being butchered and sold in the grocery stores. 
  2. Empty Shelves: Food shortages across the board will be coming. This is going to be anything and everything that contains corn. 
  3. Ethanol shortage. Iowa leads the way in ethanol production, which means things that use ethanol will be in short supply. Ethanol is used in personal care products, household products, food additives, fuel, medicines, and alcoholic beverages. 
  4. Alcoholic Beverage shortage: Did you read that right? Many types of alcohol use ethanol! That means we may need to start making our own moonshine (lol). 
  5. Increased prices: Obviously, when things are in short supply, you will see prices climb. It’s called supply and demand. 
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What Items Should We Stock Now Before the Corn Shortage?

Since it hasn’t been too long since Iowa had this devastation, there is still some time before we will see everything transpire. So, you need to head to the store NOW! You need to stock up on pretty much EVERYTHING! So many things are made with corn. Here are some of the things I would suggest you start with now:

  • Meat: If you have a deep freezer, fill it up, if you are a family that eats much meat. 
  • Popcorn: Some of us like our little snacks and popcorn will be in short supply. 
  • Canned corn, frozen corn, fresh corn: Any corn you can find you may want to grab. 
  • Shampoo and conditioner: Uses citric acid which is derived from corn.
  • Yogurt: Uses high fructose corn syrup. 
  • Diapers: Corn starch is used to soak up moisture in diapers. 
  • Envelopes: Corn is used in making the glue for the envelopes. 
  • Cornbread: This is a no brainer. 
  • Windex: This window cleaner uses 5 different ingredients that are derived from corn. 
  • Corn Flakes: Another no brainer. 
  • Paper and cardboard: Corn starch is used in making paper. 
  • Crayons and chalk: These use corn starch.
  • Pet food: Most pet food is made with some kind of corn as an ingredient. 
  • Deodorant: This is made with corn starch because of its absorbent nature. 
  • Hand Sanitizer: As if this wasn’t already on short supply…It’s made from ethanol. 
  • Toothpaste: Sorbitol is an ingredient in toothpaste that is derived from corn. 
  • Cornstarch: No brainer here.
  • Cereals: Made with cornstarch.
  • Snack Foods: Made with corn starch.
  • Salad Dressing: Made with corn starch.
  • Peanut Butter: Made with corn starch.
  • Grits: Made with corn starch.
  • Taco Shells: Made from corn.
  • Other Flour Products: All have some kind of corn as an ingredient.
  • Alcoholic beverages: Most alcoholic beverages contain ethanol made from corn. 

If you are running low on anything, now is the time to head to the store and start stocking up. Get what you think you will need and use. 

Corn Shortage Final Thoughts

2020 has been a year to be thankful for being prepared. From COVID, to food shortages due to unemployment issues, and now a corn shortage. The as the 2020 year progresses, the more I feel thankful for all the stocks I have. If you are running low on anything, it’s time to head to the store now! Remember, we prepare for the worst and hope for the best. May God bless you!

Copyright Images: Corn In An Apple Basket Deposit photos_3300000_s-2019, Corn Field Thunderstorm Wind Damage AdobeStock_330125353 by JJ Gouin

20 thoughts on “Is There a Corn Shortage? Iowa Derecho Damage

  • August 14, 2020 at 7:19 am

    Linda, this is excellent and so timely. I hope many people read this article! Earlier this spring, we purchased a pressure canner and now preserve a variety of foods. We already intended to process meat, and now is definitely the time. Thank you for your faithful and informative posts. God bless you.

    • August 14, 2020 at 7:36 am

      Hi Deborah, oh, I love hearing that you purchased a pressure canner!! Woohoo! Thank you for your kind words, Linda

  • August 14, 2020 at 8:50 am

    It’s not only going to effect us but China as well. They are already in a crisis so this will compound it and desperation is a bad trait when you look at maintaining peace.

    • August 14, 2020 at 10:49 am

      Hi Matt, I totally agree. I wrote it so in case people do not watch the news they better stock up and be prepared for more empty shelves. Desperation is truly a bad trait. Linda

  • August 14, 2020 at 10:20 am

    I’m not a drinker but whiskey and shine are probably gonna go up too

    • August 14, 2020 at 10:50 am

      Hi Matt, yes, indeed it will! Hopefully, people understand what this means to our country and the world for that matter. If COVID didn’t wake them up, good luck. Stay safe, Linda

  • August 14, 2020 at 10:55 am

    Thanks Linda for getting the word out. I have had pushback regarding the corn shortage as “it is only for animal feed and ethanol. Well, that affects EVERYTHING!

    I don’t eat a lot of corn but don’t mess with my popcorn!! I was able to get some bulk popcorn and after the first of the month will stock up more. I do want to get more cornmeal for cornbread although I don’t eat it often, love it with chili and beans during the winter. I also discovered a way to vacuum seal flour and the like in my Food Saver bags – really easy and no “dust” getting into my machine.

    • August 14, 2020 at 11:08 am

      HI Leanne, oh I love hearing you love popcorn as much as I do. I had to go into town yesterday so I strolled through Walmart, and I bought several cans of Non-GMO canned corn. I told Mark we need a few cans of corn…..I was actually surprised to see so many cans. I also picked up some more cans of Lysol Spray, I was shocked to see some. I also got one package of Clorox wipes. Stay safe, Linda

    • August 29, 2020 at 8:40 am

      How did you vacuum seal flour? I hope you do not mind sharing.

      • August 29, 2020 at 8:45 am

        Hi Sheila, Leanne said she saw it on YouTube. I would Google it. I do not use my FoodSaver for flour. Linda

      • August 29, 2020 at 10:39 am

        SheilaG –
        I follow a blog on homesteading and this woman showed how to vacuum seal flour (and I suppose it will work with other powdered items) on YouTube. If you go to YouTube and search for Vacuum sealing flour – it is by Homestead Corner. I decided to try it and it worked!! You will need to have some paper bags (lunch bags worked well) and the really large vacuum sealer bags. Oh and tape and a marking pen. I have now successfully sealed 10 pounds of flour and will keep an eye on the bags to see if they at any time lose the vacuum. I had been keeping my flour in gallon jars with O2 absorbers. Vacuum sealing will save so much space.

  • August 14, 2020 at 12:24 pm

    We have to remember many of these farmers lost their crops to the flooding in Iowa last year and I’m thinking there was something (maybe a drought?) in 2018 that caused massive problems for the Iowa farmers. Earlier this spring when the meat packing plants were having troubles due to coronavirus, some of the farmers had to destroy animals that couldn’t be sold to the meat packing plants. While the loss of this year’s corn crop is going to cause yet another ripple in the economy that will be felt worldwide, the biggest loss is going to be the family farms that can only survive so many disasters in a row.

    • August 14, 2020 at 3:25 pm

      Hi Angela, I totally agree with you. How much more can our farmers take, flooding last year, and now this? I want to make people aware of the damage to the farmer’s crops, the canneries, the food chain, the truckers, and so much more. The meat issue is another HUGE one. I have been leaning to meatless meals, yes I have food storage but I will be switching to a lot more beans. My heart aches for the families that worked hard to produce food for our families for generations. May God bless this world, Linda

  • August 14, 2020 at 1:46 pm

    Linda, you’ve penned yet another well-researched, informative article, so kudos to you. It’s not just the devastated corn crop in Iowa. That derecho damaged corn crops in Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois as well.

    The losses in soy beans will also adversely effect our food prices as well as how China feeds it’s enormous population.

    These crop failures coming on top of all the flooding this year and last spell a horrendous outlook vis a vis food shortages and starvation. People who don’l have sufficient food in long term storage, or who can’t garden will become desperate to feed their children. It isn’t going to be pretty.

    • August 14, 2020 at 3:28 pm

      Hi Ray, I totally agree with you. Family farms can only take so many losses. I see food shortages coming and so do you. I just hope the world wakes up and learns to plant a garden and be self-sufficient. Food stamps will not work if the food shelves are empty. Wow, thank you for your kind words. Stay well, Linda

  • August 15, 2020 at 7:33 am

    When I lived in Iowa for a few years back in the late 70’s I learned that State had 90% of the world’s supply of AAA rated farm soil. Deep, rich, black earth that made gardening a breeze. Back then they were losing almost 2″ per year to erosion and other intense tillage farming techniques but I hear that has changed and the soil loss rate has dropped dramatically. Lot of good people there and if I ever have to relocate from Arizona, Iowa would be at or near the top of my list–in spite of their nasty winters. You might want to consider Iowa, if and when you relocate.

    • August 15, 2020 at 7:37 am

      Hi Ray, oh my gosh, this is awesome to hear!! Thank you! I wish I could grow food year-round!! Or walk to a Farmer’s Market every day. Stay well, Linda

  • August 15, 2020 at 6:10 pm

    Hi Linda,
    I’m just now getting to read some of your posts and getting caught up. You are spot on regarding the corn shortage. There is also a WHEAT shortage. The empty shelves that would normally have held our bags and bags of different flours were empty, not only because of the “hoarders”, but because the wheat farmers are suffering the same problems as the corn farmers. When I discovered the empty flour shelves at the beginning of the pandemic, I thought I would order it online. Boy, was I surprised when I discovered that King Arthur Flour, Bob’s Red Mill, etc. were OUT and didn’t know when they would have any available. Just now, in August, You can get only 3# bags of AP flour from King Arthur flour but they don’t have any other flour available. I haven’t checked again with Bob’s, byt it may be the same. So, for those of you who can or will be planning on doing your own Bread Baking, I suggest you watch for flour to become available and get it when you can.
    I have been busy canning everything I can get my hands on. Yes, I’m 82 and you’d think I was ready to call it quits. However, I’m not giving it up yet. The reason I’m back to canning is because: 1. who knows what there will be a shortage of next. . AND 2, the prices of ALL food stuff is climbing and climbing. I have actually seen an increase in some prices of food in just a day!!. AND 3 .. even if I have to buy the product that I plan on canning, the price I pay today is going to be way cheaper than the price I would have to have to pay next winter or spring .
    It is so funny, Linda. when I first told my hubby that I was going to start canning again, he looked at me like I had grown a second head!. Now that he’s seen the price increases on all groceries, he thinks my canning is a great idea.
    Take care of yourself and stay safe. TTYL
    Anyway, I’m with you Linda, If you haven’t started storing your food supplies against another pandemic or whatever else may come down the pike, you’d best get started

    • August 15, 2020 at 7:05 pm

      Hi Suzanne, I totally agree with all of your points. We must be prepared for the worst and enjoy the best. If I can make brownies in the middle of a pandemic, life will be awesome. Making bread brings me joy, I’m glad I have a lot of wheat to grind and white bread flour. Stay safe, and keep prepping, we must! Linda


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