Standing outside the Central Minnesota Ethanol Co-Op in Little Falls, Minn., there's not a lot going on. The pungent smell of fermentation that typically hangs in the air here is absent. And trucks piled high with corn are nowhere to be seen.
They're idled in part because of high corn prices. And it's unclear when that will change.
"Most of the industry is just breaking even in terms of profitability or actually running at slightly negative margins," says Geoff Cooper, vice president of research and analysis at the Renewable Fuels Association.
A University of Missouri veterinary professor says farmers need to be careful when feeding drought-damaged corn to their livestock.
Tom Evans is an associate professor of veterinary pathobiology at the university's College of Veterinary Medicine. He says nitrate levels can accumulate in drought-stressed corn and pose a risk to animal health.
Many farmers across the Midwest are abandoning ruined corn crops and salvaging what they can to feed to their animals, especially cattle.
The U.S. Agriculture Department is predicting what could be the lowest average corn yield in more than 15 years as the worst drought in decades scorches major farm states.
Garry Niemeyer farms 1,200 acres of corn and 800 acres of soybeans near Auburn, Ill. He says he's "totally stunned" to have corn with green stalks and leaves after going through weeks of 105-degree temperatures.