Burning our food: The drought and the vice of ethanol

posted at 5:31 pm on July 28, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

It’s not going to come as a surprise to anyone who has stepped outside this summer, but the drought engulfing most of our major farmlands is hitting epic proportions. In fact, the USDA has again downgraded the nation’s corn crop, saying that only 26% of it is in “good” or “excellent” shape. This is bad news all across the board, and it’s also highlighting some of the dysfunction in how the government interacts with a variety of industries.

The news is bad for farmers, of course,(and we’ll get back to them in a moment) but the impact is rippling out to affect everyone.

California might not be dry as a bone, but with the drought throughout most of the rest of the nation, it might as well be.

The drought is pushing up the cost of meat and milk and other dairy products for the state’s consumers. That’s because the cost of feed for California cattle, poultry and hog farmers is soaring as Midwest farms face a shortage of corn and soybean — key feed ingredients.

The higher prices won’t hit the grocery shelves for a few months, but when they do, consumers will be paying 10% to 15% more for milk, beef and poultry, farmers and economists said.

Your prices are going to rise, but do they have to go up this much? Yes, they do… thanks to Uncle Sam.

A persistent drought compounds a problem already besetting farmers, they and agriculture economists said. About a third of the country’s corn is diverted to produce ethanol under federal renewable energy standards. Ethanol production already had driven up the price of corn in recent years.

“The ethanol policy is a bad idea because the impacts of a drought are much more severe than it used to be,” said Colin Carter, a UC Davis agriculture economist.

Livestock producers have lobbied for changes to the ethanol policy, but to no avail. The ethanol issue underscores the severity of the problems in the animal industry, said Bill Mattos, president of the California Poultry Federation.

This is the real world example of reaping what you sow if you’re burning your food to achieve a government mandated “green energy” program absent the invisible hand of the market. But there’s even more meddling going on under the covers. Remember the aforementioned farmers and how the drought is affecting them?

Shouldn’t rising prices for corn be good for farmers? Well… yes. IF you happen to be lucky enough to live in one of the few areas that got rain and you actually have a crop to sell. But for everyone else, it’s bad news. They have to rely on their insurance just to break even. You know how insurance works, right? You pay premiums – even if you grumble about it – but when disaster strikes, you’re pretty glad when that check arrives.

Unfortunately, that’s not quite how it works with farmers in America. Bruce Babcock of Iowa State University explains.

“It’s not really insurance, because, as we know, when we buy insurance, we have to pay the full premium,” Babcock says, “and that premium covers not only the losses, or the claims that are made, but also the administration and profit for the company.”

When a farmer buys crop insurance, the government picks up most of the premium, and it also pays operating expenses for the companies. Those two subsidies cost close to $8 billion a year. But taxpayers also insure crop insurance companies against catastrophic loss.

So, as claims from this year’s drought mount, the USDA will shoulder a larger and larger share of the payout.

Did you catch that part? The farmers don’t have to pay for all of the premiums. And under normal conditions, a big disaster represents a huge hit to the insurance companies. But in this case, they’re saying they’re going to be just fine. Why? Because they don’t have to pony up for all of the farmers’ losses. So who is going to pay the tab for all of this at the end of the day?

I’ll give you three guesses and the first two don’t count.

References in this article:
Infographic: Smarter Fuel Future
World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates: USDA
Food prices to rise in California amid drought elsewhere: The LA Times
Big US crop insurers say losses manageable despite drought: Reuters
Despite Crop Insurance, Drought Still Stings Farmers: NPR
As drought tightens grip on U.S., forecast is ‘dry, dry, dry’: The LA Times


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Why isn’t Elizabeth Warren doin’ a rain dance?

Electrongod on July 28, 2012 at 5:37 PM

There is going to be a severe corn and grain shortage in a couple of years. Monsanto is storing up seed, and when the shortages hit, they’ll own the farms and they’ll tell farmers what to plant and how much. They’re actually already doing this on a lesser scale.

Don’t believe me? Ask an ag extension specialist in your county.

AubieJon on July 28, 2012 at 5:38 PM

Our use of ethanol to supplement gasoline is an obscenity, not nearly cost-effective (it might be if gasoline were at $10 a gallon), and driving up the price of food not just here, but around the world where food purchases are a larger part of the per capita income, and may make the difference between life and death.

Drill here, drill now.

Paul-Cincy on July 28, 2012 at 5:38 PM

We American’s are going to get the shaft coming and going thanks to big bro! To he!! with food, see to it that that gosh horrible fuel that craters you car/truck is used for fuel, not food?

Let me see if I recall correctly, in some countries you need a wheelbarrow full of money to buy a loaf of bread? Is this coming to the US thanks to bho/teams krap?
L

letget on July 28, 2012 at 5:39 PM

the USDA will shoulder a larger and larger share of the payout.

No problems, the USDA has plenty of extra cash lying around on account of their Food Stamp Frugality.

Oh. Wait.

RushBaby on July 28, 2012 at 5:40 PM

Not a bad deal. If they have crop failure it’s covered by insurance which has been paid for by John Q Taxpayer. If they still have a crop, they gain advantage of the higher price because of reduced supply. Meanwhile, the taxpayer who gets to pay for the farmers’ crop insurance premiums, also enjoys a 10% increased food cost at the supermarket.

a capella on July 28, 2012 at 5:41 PM

I guess we are lucky here in Pennsylvania that we have had rain and a good corn crop. But we are already seeing higher prices for processed food that includes corn, which is just about everything.

So sorry for those of you living through this drought.

rockmom on July 28, 2012 at 5:43 PM

My neighbor and his family just returned from spending a couple of weeks at his family’s farm in NW Iowa. The corn is doing just fine except for a few spots in NE Iowa.

Here is how the ethanol works for farmers (who also own the ethanol plants)…

They sign a contract to provide X amount of bushels annually. If they have a bad crop year and have committed all or most of their crop to that one entity, they are bankrupt, because they have to buy the corn they were contracted to supply, and at a higher price.

Kermit on July 28, 2012 at 5:45 PM

Bad Policy from the start. Bad for internal combustion engines to boot. Bad for the Tax Payer. Stupid to burn your food source. You can’t eat gasoline.

Bmore on July 28, 2012 at 5:48 PM

ethanol is incredibly inefficient, particularly corn, Beyond parody, A tax payer ripoff for a product that destroys engines and has poor mileage.

pat on July 28, 2012 at 5:51 PM

Buy all your meat products now and put them in the deep freeze. Meat on the hooof. Mmmmmmmm!

Red Creek on July 28, 2012 at 5:51 PM

I guess we are lucky here in Pennsylvania that we have had rain and a good corn crop. But we are already seeing higher prices for processed food that includes corn, which is just about everything.

So sorry for those of you living through this drought.

rockmom on July 28, 2012 at 5:43 PM

And you drill for natural gas which schmucky schumer has pretty much prevented just miles away.

vityas on July 28, 2012 at 5:51 PM

Ethanol from food is arguably a horrible idea, creating scarcity and inflation.

Ethanol from other than food is another matter, for example… http://www.ineosbio.com/62-Process_overview.htm

Drill here, drill now and produce ethanol without government subsidy combined produce the most supply and lowest cost to consumer.

Not-a-Marxist on July 28, 2012 at 5:56 PM

Yep, real smart. Turning food crops into motor fuel.

GarandFan on July 28, 2012 at 6:00 PM

Between drought and the government soon all of our farmlands will dry up. But at least we’ll still have the delta smelt. Phuckin’ morons

Rio Linda Refugee on July 28, 2012 at 6:00 PM

The silver lining may be that those in office supporting this subsidization may also suffer electile dysfunction in November.

ericdijon on July 28, 2012 at 6:01 PM

The silver lining may be that those in office supporting this subsidization may also suffer electile dysfunction in November.

ericdijon on July 28, 2012 at 6:01 PM

Not enough of them.

Rio Linda Refugee on July 28, 2012 at 6:03 PM

This story’s five years old, but it bears repeating — on the matter of ethanol being derived out of food crops instead of other sources, Fidel Castro is to the right of the United States government. And this was pre-Obama, so the problem goes to the ag lobby and their demand for a mandatory buyer of their crop in high-output, low price years.

With the increase ability to produce oil and natural gas domestically through fracking and horizontal drilling techniques, there is no reason to be using food crops for fuel. Even Obama’s algae biofuel dream makes more sense than this, especially in a drought year.

jon1979 on July 28, 2012 at 6:04 PM

“What? The corn crop isn’t the same every year?” – progressive central planner

forest on July 28, 2012 at 6:05 PM

Thanks Al Gore you freakin baffoon.

SparkPlug on July 28, 2012 at 6:08 PM

Predicated on a hoax.

tom daschle concerned on July 28, 2012 at 6:09 PM

The biggest losers in all of this are all of the people in the world without enough to eat, and our own citizens who can’t make it from check to check without meaningful sacrifice already.

Vice indeed.

hillbillyjim on July 28, 2012 at 6:14 PM

This is the real world example of reaping what you sow if you’re burning your food to achieve a government mandated “green energy” program absent the invisible hand of the market.

and also an example of politicians who couldn’t find their ass with both hands making policy that controls us all.

arnold ziffel on July 28, 2012 at 6:14 PM

“What? The corn crop isn’t the same every year?” – progressive central planner

forest on July 28, 2012 at 6:05 PM

Perfect.

Bmore on July 28, 2012 at 6:16 PM

Why isn’t Elizabeth Warren doin’ a rain dance?

Electrongod on July 28, 2012 at 5:37 PM

…she ain’t got no rhythm?

KOOLAID2 on July 28, 2012 at 6:17 PM

Buy all your meat products now and put them in the deep freeze. Meat on the hooof. Mmmmmmmm!

Red Creek on July 28, 2012 at 5:51 PM

…there’s plenty of dogs!

KOOLAID2 on July 28, 2012 at 6:19 PM

Yep, real smart. Turning food crops into motor fuel.

GarandFan on July 28, 2012 at 6:00 PM

.
I agree, but the American people have to accept the responsibility for this one. We became complacent, and let the EPA “walk all over us” for thirty years.
If a majority were to start calling for the abolition of the EPA, this could change overnight.

listens2glenn on July 28, 2012 at 6:27 PM

“the vice of ethanol”

BRAVO!, Jazz.

I’m going to steal that phrase.

locomotivebreath1901 on July 28, 2012 at 6:29 PM

Communists have been doing things that cause people to starve for nearly 100 years and with their saturation within the US government they’re hard at it again on another continent.

Rio Linda Refugee on July 28, 2012 at 6:31 PM

Guess who’s picking up the tab? The government…

It’s a guilt thing, arguably.
Secular guilt about a productive and leisure society, where energy is the foundation. Well, let assuage some guilt by paying more for it, and to make an even more poignant sacrifice, lets negatively impact something that is essential for our daily food, so it really hits home, and thus it’s really not too far off from being akin from when the Aztecs took sacrifices to the heart… the human heart, literally.
Indeed, I think guilt lies at the very foundation of the entire leftist utopian ideal (going back decades), as exemplified in the two quotes to follow. Climate change itself, seen in this light, is a trumped up vehicle to work this guilt out on a massive scale through energy-slashing de-industrialization:
“We have wished, we ecofreaks, for a disaster… to bomb us into the stone age, where we might live like Indians, with our localism, our appropriate technology, our gardens, our homemade religion, guilt free at last.” -Stewart Brand, Whole Earth Catalogue
“A massive campaign must be launched to de-develop the United States… [we] must design a stable, low-consumption economy in which there is a much more equitable distribution of wealth.” -John Holdren (1973), O’s ‘Science’ Czar

anotherJoe on July 28, 2012 at 6:36 PM

The ethanol rip-off of American taxpayers goes well beyond the lunatic-left d-cRAT socialist eco-fascists. MANY, MANY establishment Repubs also support this atrocity and even some alleged “conservatives” do also (like newt gingrich, to name but one).

TeaPartyNation on July 28, 2012 at 6:41 PM

ethanol is incredibly inefficient, particularly corn, Beyond parody, A tax payer ripoff for a product that destroys engines and has poor mileage.

pat on July 28, 2012 at 5:51 PM

And does zero for MPG. Ethanol has 34% less energy per gallon. Cars that burn 10% ethanol on the average get 3-4% less gas milage, and unsubstantiated reports say it could be worse.

Save the corn from the gas tank, and make tortillas instead.

itsspideyman on July 28, 2012 at 6:55 PM

ethanol is incredibly inefficient, particularly corn, Beyond parody, A tax payer ripoff for a product that destroys engines and has poor mileage.

pat on July 28, 2012 at 5:51 PM

We have so lost our minds.

We have elected a Marxist who may not even be an American, but don’t question it or you’ll be laughed at and mocked by the people who support taking our food from our tables and putting into our gas tanks to recreate a substance that is inefficient, damages engines and actually creates a larger carbon footprint that the free substance we can easily take from the ground right under our feet.

Yeah, don’t question his birth certificate or you will be mocked by the people who have sold guns to drug lords across the Mexican border in the hopes crime will be committed which in turn they will use as justification to enact gun laws because too many crimes have been committed by the guns they illegally sold across the border.

I could go on, but why even bother.

JellyToast on July 28, 2012 at 7:13 PM

it looks like the eco-freaks and climate ‘scientists’ and our lickspittle press are going for the jugular next week

Richard Mueller will be ‘validating’ the temperature rise over the last 250 years, and say that most of the recent rise is due to co2

he is a putative ‘skeptic’ so the blaring headlines will say something like ‘former skeptic says humans are causing warming’ and that he’ll forecast 1.5F in the next 50 years

natch, the lickspittle class will say yay barry our messiah will stop this with his brilliant solar program and wind program…and thank Gaia that the EPA is run by the most brilliant and talented people we have, because of their destruction of the coal industry

and yes, we must re-elect our messiah….we can not go backwards…our lives depend on it

r keller on July 28, 2012 at 7:13 PM

Yeah, its time for corn ethanol to go for all the reasons above. One area that does sound promising is the ongoing development of cellulosic ethanol. Basically turning the corn stalks and leaves into ethanol. The technology already exists, they’re just working on making it efficient enough to compete.

The drought is making it even worse. My family’s farm is actually going to make out quite well this year. We’re in the Platte River Valley in south central Nebraska. While its dry as a bone out here, we’re sitting on the Ogallala Aquifer so irrigation is allowing us to have a harvest of about 90% of normal. With corn at $8/bushel, we’re actually deferring payment on corn we’ve sold to stay in our current tax bracket, which has never happened before. So it by no means is the situation uniform nationwide.

My thoughts and prayers are with the folks in Illinois and Indiana who are burning up and have no irrigation to mitigate it. Hopefully they’re all insured.

LukeinNE on July 28, 2012 at 7:22 PM

it’s easier and less CO2 to just drill for shale gas.

Only dummies like Obama know the deep secret liberal commie sauce you need to open that can

tarpon on July 28, 2012 at 7:28 PM

When a society burns food for fuel…it has tipped into decline.

Every politician, former politician, leader, advocate and person involved in this whole ethanol scheme should be arrested, forfeit all property, stripped of citizenship and removed from society…commensurate to the damage they have inflicted and the irretrievable wealth they have stolen from the people of this Nation.

It is and has always been a Ponzi scheme.

It never has been about saving energy or weaning the nation off fossil fuels.

The science, the engineering, the mathematics all prove that this scheme is totally inefficient across the board.

A waste from the first day.

coldwarrior on July 28, 2012 at 7:54 PM

Agree with most comments here about the utter foolishness of turning our food and fiber into fuel. The indirect waste of our water supply and the depletion of our soil for fuel will be a massive fail if not stopped. Water will be the new gold someday!!

Marco on July 28, 2012 at 7:54 PM

I went to the grocery store today and paid 14.00 dollars for a SMALL SMALL roast!! My husband makes 10.00 an hr.! I am going to have to find some meatless meals!

lisa fox on July 28, 2012 at 8:07 PM

The ethanol rip-off of American taxpayers goes well beyond the lunatic-left d-cRAT socialist eco-fascists. MANY, MANY establishment Repubs also support this atrocity and even some alleged “conservatives” do also (like newt gingrich, to name but one).
TeaPartyNation on July 28, 2012 at 6:41 PM

This is the saddest thing. We know in the GWB era a number of Repubs went astray on spending, and on climate change in particular as the left had succeeded in duping us (many of us, I should say) good. Some establishment Repubs MAY have got some of the same payoffs to their cronies or campaign donors similar to what O has so openly and flagrantly exploited; but these Repubs need to now repudiate their past support for this lunacy.

Green energy was justified mainly because of global warming, which is bogus (the hockey stick was debunked, so current temperatures are not unusual; and CO2 arguably has nothing to do with the climate).
Some Repubs may have fallen for the idea that green energy could help reduce oil imports. But that is a complete fallacy: the exorbitant green energy subsidies if applied to conventional energy would have produced much more energy, and hence a much more significant drop in imports. But green subsidies actually crowd out conventional energy on the margins, and ultimately it is not sustainable, as the govt is going to go belly up bankrupt if they kept pouring these subsidies down the drain; look at Europe where the huge green energy subsidies has a lot to do with their financial problems (and they still are making only a tiny dent in innocuous CO2 emisions!).
So, it crowds out conventional energy, but green energy eventually will disappear if it does not benefit from the continuous lavish subsidies, leaving us worse off then if we had spent nothing on subsidy (with the conventional capability displaced). Yes, it’s lunacy!

anotherJoe on July 28, 2012 at 8:11 PM

I hope my husband gets a deer this year!!

lisa fox on July 28, 2012 at 8:11 PM

Speaking of food…

Funny stuff.

hillbillyjim on July 28, 2012 at 8:12 PM

I went to the grocery store today and paid 14.00 dollars for a SMALL SMALL roast!! My husband makes 10.00 an hr.! I am going to have to find some meatless meals!

lisa fox on July 28, 2012 at 8:07 PM

See my 8:12 link for government-certified ways to stretch those food dollars.

hillbillyjim on July 28, 2012 at 8:14 PM

Speaking of frog legs, used to go frog giggen in my Ohio neighborhood! Tastes like chicken!!!

lisa fox on July 28, 2012 at 8:23 PM

This government is going to be the death of us all if we don’t take it back.

sadatoni on July 28, 2012 at 8:24 PM

It’s not a hoax. It’s a false religion. Please demand for the separation of church and state.

John the Libertarian on July 28, 2012 at 9:11 PM

…there’s plenty of dogs!

KOOLAID2 on July 28, 2012 at 6:19 PM

Hey … you just think that greasy spoon is serving you up a chicken fried steak.

Red Creek on July 28, 2012 at 11:31 PM

We can blame Obama for this all we want. However, if we don’t get “conservatives” from farm states who support ethanol subsidies this lunacy will continue.

Maybe just maybe this drought is just what we need. High corn prices will drive the price of ethanol up and hopefully put some heat on our elected knuckleheads in DC.

jpmn on July 29, 2012 at 7:16 AM

ethanol is incredibly inefficient, particularly corn, Beyond parody, A tax payer ripoff for a product that destroys engines and has poor mileage.

pat on July 28, 2012 at 5:51

PM

And does zero for MPG. Ethanol has 34% less energy per gallon. Cars that burn 10% ethanol on the average get 3-4% less gas milage, and unsubstantiated reports say it could be worse.

Save the corn from the gas tank, and make tortillas instead.

itsspideyman on July 28, 2012 at 6:55 PM

My son’s Prius gets 45 mpg with E10, but with E0 (plain old gasoline) he gets 54 mpg, a 20 percent improvement.

Dasher on July 29, 2012 at 7:57 AM

I am a farmer. These “statistics” about the % of the corn crop, that goes to produce Ethanol, must be subjective,as the figures I have , and the number of ethanol plants unfinished and/or shut down do NOT in any way relate to a so called food shortage. The % of the corn crop used for ethanol is less than 3%, according to the breakdown I see at my Farm co-op store here in In. The % of food (sweet corn ) is about the same 3%(sweet corn is what tortillas are made of ) and has MOSTLY been harvested. The 95% of all corn that is left, is used to feed Animals, and for next years seed, this is the corn that is suffering from the ravages of drought, and you will see that effect later in the fall, when Milk and Beef go way up. But the tortillas will be safe.

Offhanded on July 29, 2012 at 9:15 AM

..also, I do NOT support ethanol subsidies

Offhanded on July 29, 2012 at 9:17 AM

Burning our food: The drought and the vice of ethanol

The glass is half full !

Let’s be optimistic here. Eco-Scammers surely do not look at the drought as a “bad thing”. Why, with all that extra heat and solar radiation (sun-light) just think of all the energy we can get by just laying down acres upon acres of solar panels…right over the top of the dryed up corn stocks ! :)

It’s a WIN WIN !! Eco-scammers win either way !! “Food into FUEL” or “Solar panels” !! Take your pick :D !

BigSven on July 29, 2012 at 9:35 AM

OK, it’s probably unwise to post it, but I will anyway.

I know there’s not a lot of people who spend time pondering ag policy, but every time there’s a HotAir post on the cost of food in relation to ethanol people lose it.

1. Crop insurance is a good deal for taxpayers.

Why? Because the premiums to cover a widespread disaster like we are seeing this year are so expensive no one could afford to purchase the coverage. If no one purchased insurance the federal government would still fill the gap with disaster $$$. The current program encourages producers to pony up for disasters along the way. Taxpayers can pay 100% of the cost of a disaster bill, or see the farmers who receive an insurance benefit paying up to 50% of the cost of covering a disaster on their own. It is good policy.

2. Ethanol is a good market regulator.

Studies have shown that the ethanol industry has made farming more profitable by incorporating grain surpluses that inhibit the market and otherwise would need to be destroyed over time. A crop of corn doesn’t keep forever. You have to use it. Thirty years ago, that meant dumping it on foreign markets at a loss to the grower or spending even more government money to coerce farmers not to grow a crop. One of the main complaints about ag policy used to be “paying farmers not to farm.” You don’t hear much of that anymore because prices have improved and the ethanol market is one reason for that.

Ethanol plants are also private entities that must maintain a profit over time. Many are shutting down now, due to the increase in the price of corn making the product unprofitable. As the drought continues, more will follow. Once a plant shuts down, it won’t begin the process again until it is financially sustainable over the long term to do so, creating a natural buffer to high prices. Further, the law that was passed that incorporates renewable fuels into the national supply chain does allow that requirement to be relaxed in time such as this, an even further method of buffering the market.

3. Profitable farmers pay taxes.

The most recent study I saw a couple years ago (we were still paying blenders to add ethanol to gas then) showed the program to be a net balance to the federal treasury. The government was bringing in as much income from farmers and increased tax base (due to higher employment and increased economic activity in rural areas) as they were spending in transfers to the oil companies for blending the stuff. Once the blender’s credit went away, it probably resulted in a net income increase to the government. If those jobs were not available, the taxpayer would be paying higher unemployment and transfer payments.

4. A reality based community needs to get real.

Continued fallacies make arguing about it silly. Ethanol blends are not bad for car and truck engines. More than a dozen states have required its use for over ten years without cars piling up by the side of the road. But the myth persists.

Ethanol does have fewer BTU’s per unit than gasoline, but is higher in octane so those units burn hotter. A vehicle capable of compensating for the differences in fuel sees only a minimal mileage decrease. Most cars do not currently have that capacity, so the product is used primarily as a smog reducer in blends. But it does have other benefits: Another reason for the mileage differential is that ethanol is often blended with oil distillates that would not otherwise qualify as gasoline. Because it is higher in octane, the ethanol allows these lower grade oil products to be used in the fuel chain. This is a good thing, since it means we are able to use a greater percentage of every barrel of oil that comes from the ground as a motor fuel than we otherwise would.

There are no cash subsidies paid for the product. Up until recently, oil blenders were paid to incorporate it and bring it to the retail market. That expired last October. Now they must do so on their own dime. The alternative, in periods of stockpiled grain, is to pay farmers to supplement their income until the backlog clears, or potentially lose them to bankruptcy which decreases food security. Which would you prefer? If you believe farming is easy, how come fewer and fewer do it every year?

Ethanol produces valuable by-products. The process used to create it also produces high value feed components for the livestock industry that reduce their demand for corn and protein sources. Would livestock producers prefer to feed cheap corn? I know I would, but also have seen first hand the benefit to rural communities that the ethanol industry has provided: more employment, higher income, increased monetary velocity in the region. If you believe the rising tide lifts all boats, ethanol policy is one of the places you can show it.

I am not a huge ethanol user. I am actually a livestock producer who fared better when grain farmers were losing their ass. But I am man enough to say that the policy is effective even though it does not benefit me personally, because I have witnessed it.

I wish people were capable of taking a nuanced view of what the industry does and weigh it against the costs. I realize an internet forum is probably not the place to achieve that, but one of the major issues in agriculture is the disconnect people have with the places and ways their food is produced. If one person can step back from their knee jerk assessment of agriculture due to the discussion, it is worthwhile to attempt it.

Caustic Conservative on July 29, 2012 at 10:11 AM

Yeah, its time for corn ethanol to go for all the reasons above. One area that does sound promising is the ongoing development of cellulosic ethanol. Basically turning the corn stalks and leaves into ethanol. The technology already exists, they’re just working on making it efficient enough to compete.

LukeinNE on July 28, 2012 at 7:22 PM

Umm, no.

The process for creating ethanol from cellulose is as old as the process used to create it from grain. The reason it hasn’t been adopted is that it is much less feasible. Cellulose is not energy dense. It is bulky, and the logistics of transporting it for processing largely outweigh the benefits. Further, as a farm kid, you should know that stover isn’t free. It contains nutrients that must be replaced to the soil if the grain and the stover are both removed. And replacing them costs $$$$. The loss of soil cover alone that would occur if stover were removed would have immense negative effects and costs. There are no useful by products from its creation that could be sold to offset its costs of production.

These are just some of the reasons cellulose biofuels have not caught on, and are ultimately unlikely to.

Caustic Conservative on July 29, 2012 at 10:27 AM

Guess who’s picking up the tab?

The great-great-great-grandchildren.

J.E. Dyer on July 29, 2012 at 11:10 AM

Malthus was right, but for reasons he never could have imagined.
~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on July 29, 2012 at 12:12 PM

Only government would mandate mileage standards….and then mandate putting a pollutant in the gasoline which degrades mileage!!!

Ethanol is insanity.

landlines on July 29, 2012 at 12:13 PM

…and then there’s the matter of the purposeful destruction of Western dams…which makes all agricultural crises MUCH WORSE!!!

Government is pollution of rational thought.

landlines on July 29, 2012 at 12:17 PM

coldwarrior 7:54

Best comment of the thread. Period.

100% Agree.

avgjo on July 29, 2012 at 3:27 PM