The headline in the Wall Street Journal “Corn Imports Surge in U.S., Despite Record Harvests at Home” is a signal demonstrating how insane our government’s policy is in using domestic corn for fuel production. Why is it that we are importing corn when we have a glut?
American corn is still relatively expensive internationally because our government subsidizes the production of ethanol which, is made from corn. Some of the federal and state qualifiers are that in order for the ethanol to be subsidized it must use domestically produced corn. Many commodity brokers of corn are taking a wait and see attitude before they sell their corn at a relatively low price compared to previous years. They are hoping that the federal government will expand the use of ethanol in our cars and trucks with a much higher content mixture and that would absorb any excess in supply of corn and drive corn prices higher.
Because corn brokers have been unwilling to sell their corn at a low price, this has allowed low priced corn from Brazil and Argentina to make its way to America and is primarily being used as feed for cows, pigs, and poultry. Why hasn’t the USEPA authorized a higher ethanol content in our gasoline to save our farmers from financial pain? The USEPA has realized what Al Gore, Green Peace, and the Sierra Club have realized; ethanol from corn was a colossal mistake. One only has to read the hundreds of headlines of poisonous algae blooms that are currently contaminating America’s water supplies. Ohio, is dealing with the reality of fertilizer runoff from corn crops that are fueling the tremendous growth in algae blooms. If you want to see what is in store for Lake Erie, you just need to take a gander at Grand Lake St. Mary’s that stretches between St. Mary’s, OH and Celina, OH in the western part of the state. A once thriving tourist destination has been decimated by the results of the ethanol mandate.
The truth is Ohio’s corn-based ethanol is not vital and not an answer to our energy demands. The mandate and subsidy has predictably displaced crops grown for food and promoted farming practices that harm the environment. So much so, in the case of Grand Lake St. Mary’s, that the entire lake routinely looks like pea soup. Besides the harm the ethanol standard is doing to the environment we must look at what it is doing to our national security.
California just entered its fifth year in drought. Experts say it has been the worst the state has seen in 1,200 years. California produces a sizable majority of many American fruits, vegetables, and nuts: 99 percent of artichokes, 99 percent of walnuts, 97 percent of kiwis, 97 percent of plums, 95 percent of celery, 95 percent of garlic, 89 percent of cauliflower, 71 percent of spinach, and 69 percent of carrots (and the list goes on and on). Some of this is due to climate and soil. No other state, or even a combination of states, can match California’s output per acre – when it is not fighting a drought. Previous to the last five years California used to produce half of America’s fruits and vegetables.
A colossal problem is mounting in that other states are not picking up the slack in feeding America because they are devoting their croplands to producing fuel. As a result, America is becoming very dependent upon other countries for feeding its people. We have seen the results of America being dependent upon foreign countries for oil and just as we are kicking that addiction thanks to domestic oil production, we are becoming addicted to foreign food. What sense does that make? Ethanol pollutes, compromises our national security, raises the cost of all food, and is more expensive to produce than American made gasoline made from American oil.
So why do we have a mandated and subsidized ethanol standard again?