Wednesday, April 7, 2010

An Agriculture Civil War

I posted this on my agvocacy blog - Ag on the Forefront - earlier today and wanted to share here as well as it is something that I want to get out on the table and have a discussion about.

As a person who grew up only around beef cattle, and now working in the crop commodity world, I find it SO frustrating that sometimes the two don't get along. Yes, sometimes events in one industry affect the other industry, but why does 2% of the population that is involved in agriculture have to fight against eachother? We are already getting picked on by the other 98%, so we need to stick together!

This is what prefaces my frustration. It's strange that an organization representing the meat industry, so dependent on farmers, is waging war against someone so fundamental to their livelihood - but that's exactly what the American Meat Institute and its allies are doing in their opposition to corn-based ethanol. They're using deception and distortion in a new ad campaign on Capitol Hill that is designed to kill the ethanol industry and drive down the price of corn so the big food conglomerates can make more money.

In the words and daily speech of my boss, it is well known and documented that the higher corn prices and other commodities of 2008 were brought on more by the value of the dollar, speculative trading and weather, than corn being converted to ethanol. It is also well proven that it was energy prices and transportation cost that spiked food prices during that era, and ironically as commodity prices have dropped; food price index has remained strong comparatively.

  • The ethanol industry is critical to our farms, to all of rural America, and to our country's energy independence that we work together to support agriculture.
  • We need to support, not kill, U.S. jobs. Our domestic ethanol industry supported nearly 400,000 jobs in all sectors of the economy during 2009.
  • Corn prices are half what they were at their peak in 2008, even with ethanol production on the rise. Ethanol demand has little to do with food prices.
  • Compared to gasoline, ethanol provides significant environmental benefits, especially when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. EPA recognizes that corn ethanol provides a GHG reduction of up to 52 percent compared to gasoline.
  • The ethanol industry more than pays its way. Taking into account how much tax revenue the industry generated and the value of key tax credits, the ethanol industry generated a surplus of $3.4 billion for the federal treasury in 2009.
I would be interested in hearing your comments on the situation.

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