In late 1995 and early 1996, the rapid run-up in production costs was followed by a rapid decline. Corn prices fell by more than $2 a bushel from July to December 1996.  Market-hog production costs were below $50 per hundredweight by early 1997. That’s not likely to occur this year, as ethanol production is driving today’s feed price increase.

In 2007, the United States produced nearly 6.5 billion gallons of ethanol, three times as much as five years earlier. The new federal renewable-fuels mandate requires 9 billion gallons of grain-based ethanol automobile fuel this year, and 15 billion gallons in 2015 and each year thereafter. Given that, it’s difficult to predict corn prices dropping much below $5 per bushel any time soon.