Opinion Editorial: It’s Time to Rethink Grain for Ethanol

 

Drought is a cyclical event. This year, drought is affecting major areas of the U.S., especially the grain (corn) producing areas. This has been a major news item for the past month or more.  Projections are abundant on the effect of this drought on food and feed supplies and the ultimate affect on food prices. Grain will still be produced but in smaller amounts.

In view of the projected situation, does it still make sense to use 40-50% of the nation’s corn production to produce ethanol to extend our gasoline supply when the supply of grain for food and feed use is being threatened? The production of ethanol was and is heavily subsidized to extend gasoline supplies from oil. The wisdom of this promotion was questioned in the beginning and has already caused a major economic shift in the production of meat, milk and eggs due to feed costs that have increased 2-3 fold.

Is it time to ban or partially ban the use of grain for ethanol production? Why should this use of grain continue when this basic food item is in short supply, driving up the cost of food?

I fully realize that such a ban would have major economic consequences on the ethanol industry, transportation industry, grain industry and others. However, maintaining the sustainability of the food supply has a higher priority than ethanol production.

Furthermore, if the government can ban the use of antibiotics in animal production at a loss of $200 million in feed savings to swine producers and perhaps a similar amount to poultry producers because of speculated human health effects, then a ban on using grain for ethanol in order to obviously maintain the nation’s food supply would seem in order.

R.L. Preston

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