With the drought decreasing the state’s corn supply, the Food and Drug Administration is allowing grain companies to blend corn with higher levels of mold into livestock feed.
The drought that gripped Indiana throughout the summer dealt corn producers a huge blow, dropping production to its lowest level in decades. Purdue veterinary professor Jonathan Townsend says even the corn that did survive was more at risk for a mold called aflatoxin.
“Basically the corn’s own immune system, if you want to think of that way, is decreased or depressed and allows mold to grow more so than in normal years,” he says.
In a normal year, corn with more than 20 parts per billion of aflatoxin is automatically thrown out. But with much less corn on the stalk, the FDA is granting waivers to hard-hit states, including Indiana.
Producers can now blend corn with higher amounts of mold into livestock feed, though the finished product must still register fewer than the 20 parts per billion. Townsend says the resulting feed is safe, but he is still cautioning farmers, particularly those who do not buy from the big grain elevators.
“They have home-harvested corn or corn silage, they need to be watching very closely for levels of aflatoxin in their home produced corn,” he says.
Townsend says aflatoxin is particularly dangerous in dairy cows because the mold can get into milk.