Obviously, much of the U.S. Corn Belt region this year has suffered from drought conditions. Several states in that region have identified elevated aflatoxin levels in corn in some pockets within their states.

Since some corn contains aflatoxin levels above the tolerances established by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for feeding to various species, FDA and the states have been cooperating to determine means to assure affected corn flows through the proper channels to protect the food and feed supply.

Six states have applied for and received waivers to allow corn containing more than 20 ppb of aflatoxin to be blended with corn containing lower levels of aflatoxin for use as animal feed. This allows corn to be blended pursuant to long-standing guidelines of the FDA in the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma and safely fed to certain livestock. FDA has previously issued similar waivers to affected states during prior droughts, e. g., in 2005, 2003 and 1988, according to a report in the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture newsletter.

The blending agreement between FDA and the states puts several regulatory hurdles in place. First of all, grain dealers must sign a Compliance Agreement with the State Department of Agriculture or other appropriate regulatory body in these six states. This certification means that the signatory agrees to adhere to all the conditions of the agreement.

For example, each batch of blended corn must be analyzed to determine the aflatoxin level and a Certificate of Compliance must accompany all movement of the blended grain providing information that it is a blended load, details the level of aflatoxin in the batch and indicates the species of animals that this grain can be fed to. Corn containing greater than 500 ppb aflatoxin cannot be blended.

For dairy cattle, additional precautions are needed, and for the most part, blended feed cannot and should not be fed to dairy cattle. Also, blended corn cannot be used for human food. Specific sampling, analysis and testing protocols and procedures must be followed.

Food and feed safety are a highest priority. Food and feed security (availability) also factors into that equation. FDA and the affected states have found common ground and have a regulatory system in place to assure safety and availability.

More information regarding these agreements and aflatoxin in general can be found on the state departments of agriculture and FDA's Web sites.