Here We Go Again…

Mar 2, 2011 by

It’s come to my attention that due to the rising cost of food in America, the media people are starting up the corn wars again.  This time articles are even being written by normally reputable sources like USA Today, pronouncing ethanol as the behind-the-scenes reason for the uptick in your Froot Loops and HoHos. 

I admit that even with the knowledge I possess just from raising corn and living on a farm, after finishing some of these articles, I couldn’t help but wonder why people wouldn’t presume ethanol is to blame.  Thankfully, we have OTHER reputable sources like, ooh I don’t know, the Farm Bureau, to refute some of these (sadly, common) misconceptions. 

Here are some talking points for those of you out there who want to support me the farmers.

Because the govt. offers incentives for farmers who grow corn used in ethanol production, farmers are more likely to sign up to use their corn for ethanol. Meaning that corn which would’ve been used in food is being diverted to ethanol instead, therefore causing a drastic rise in the price of food due to a lacking supply of corn.

Fact #1
If the US govt. quit offering these ethanol incentives to farmers AND the acres that formerly went to grow “ethanol corn” were instead used for other purposes (including direct food production), the money spent by consumers on food would drop 0.3%, meaning a $5 box of cereal would now cost $0.015 less…so your Special K just went from $5 to $4.985.  Or, to spread that math out over a month’s time, the average $400/month grocery bill would drop $1.20.  Alert the media!

Fact #2
Without ethanol in our gasoline, a gallon of gas would cost 20-35 cents more.  That translates into anywhere from an additional $6 to an additional $10.50 PER MONTH, if you only purchase 30 gallons in a month.  I don’t know about you, but I have an 18 gallon tank, and I’m filling up once a week, on average.  So let’s extend the math to real life again. 

20-35 cents more per gallon x 18 gallons per week x 4 weeks per month (on a short month): $14.40 – $25.20 EXTRA in one month. I couldn’t afford that and I don’t know too many people who could. 

Fact #3
The U.S ethanol industry uses less than 3% of the world’s grain supply, and none of its food supply.

Fact #4
In the U.S., only ONE PERCENT of all the corn grown is needed to meet the demand of direct human consumption. That means only 1% of the corn grown here is sweet corn, people!  If you’re eating corn on the cob, you’re eating sweet corn, not field corn. Field corn is what ethanol comes from.  Case in point, last year we grew hundreds of acres of field corn…and planted 6 ROWS of sweet corn, just for fun, for our own personal use. In fact, less than 10% of field corn grown is needed for processing for food purposes. 

Fact #5
1/3 of the corn that goes into ethanol production is RECYCLED (hear that, green folks?) into the food chain as ready-made livestock feed called DDGS.  And, in case you were worried that the California cows might not be so “happy” anymore eating something with a name like DDGS, DDGS actually has more protein than pre-ethanol corn, so it’s much more efficient.  Efficiency makes cows AND farmers happy!

Fact #6
One more thing about the cow food:  Corn is NOT the sole source of livestock feed.  Up to 30% of cattle feed and 25% of swine feed comes from soybean meal.  AND, although 94% of soybeans grown in the U.S. become livestock feed, only about 40% of U.S corn goes to animals.

So…is anyone else now finding it nearly impossible to explain exactly how ethanol is the cause of the food price “crisis?”  What a joke! 

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  1. Charlie King

    I'm from Ohio so I know a little something about corn! I agree with you and people need to be a little more educated about corn for fuel, good job!

  2. Lauren

    Thank you Charlie! I agree. Knowledge is power. Unfortunately, far too many people believe everything they read/watch on TV rather than doing some basic research to confirm their "facts."

  3. clean

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  4. Lauren

    Thank you very much! Always nice to hear.

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