Ethanol, rough as a cob.
Thus, it is no surprise that the price of corn has doubled in the past year – from $2 to $4 a bushel. We are already seeing upward pressure on food prices as the demand for ethanol boosts the demand for corn. Until the recent ethanol boom, more than 60 percent of the annual US corn harvest was fed domestically to cattle, hogs, and chickens or used in food or beverages. Thousands of food items contain corn or corn byproducts. In Mexico, where corn is a staple food, the price of tortillas has skyrocketed because US corn has been diverted to ethanol production.
Any sort of shock to corn yields, such as drought, unseasonably hot weather, pests, or disease could send food prices into the stratosphere. Such concerns are more than theoretical. In 1970, an outbreak of a fungus destroyed 15 percent of the US corn crop.
Higher priced food I can handle, but if bourbon prices start to go up I’m going to seriously consider some form of public protest.
Perhaps a small sign in the front yard, expressing my displeasure with current events.
That’ll show them!
See also: Ha!
It was a scant two years ago that Georgia’s Saxby Chambliss voted with 73 other giddy senators for an energy bill that required the nation to use 7.5 billion gallons of ethanol. Georgia’s farmers loved corn-based ethanol; Georgia’s agri-businesses loved corn-based ethanol; and all that meant that then-Agriculture Committee Chairman Chambliss loved corn-based ethanol, too.
Earlier this year, Mr. Chambliss introduced a bill calling for even greater ethanol use, though with one striking difference: The bill caps the amount of that fuel that can come from corn. Turns out Georgia’s chicken farmers hate corn-based ethanol; Georgia’s pork producers hate corn-based ethanol; Georgia’s dairy industry hates corn-based ethanol; Georgia’s food producers hate corn-based ethanol; Georgia’s hunters hate corn-based ethanol. And all that means Mr. Chambliss has had to find a new biofuels religion.
Things are even hotter in Washington, where lobbying groups are firming up their positions against corn ethanol. The hugely influential National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has gone so far as to outline a series of public demands, including an end to any government tax credits (subsidies) for ethanol and an axe to the import tariff on foreign ethanol. Put another way, the cattlemen are so angry that they are demanding free markets and free trade–a first. Maybe ethanol really is a miracle fuel.