Corn, costs; ethanol, and food prices

It remains to be demonstrated that a farm using only ethanol for energy, produced by its own crops, could produce a net positive output of ethanol fuel. This might seem a dumb statement, but consider: farms import fertilizer, use traditional fuel in tractors and other machinery, and in distillation.

Nevertheless we are mandated to use ethanol in our automotive fuel. What they did not tell you is, ethanol has about one-third less energy in it. Thus 10% ethanol translates into maybe 3% lower fuel economy.

Another thing they did not tell you is, we use corn to make ethanol, and we also use corn to “make” a lot of other things. Animal feed is the obvious instance. However corn syrup is used in baking as a sweetener. Ethanol is competing for those corn products.

So, you can thank the lobby pushing ethanol from corn for increasing your food prices: bakes goods, pork, and beef are the obvious price increases. You may note that food prices are rising faster than inflation, and are not included in “core” inflation figures.

So, next time you are checking out at the supermarket, thank your government for mandating ethanol in your fuel. And, as you fill up at the pump, thank your government for lowering your fuel economy by about 3 percent. Don’t bother to also thank them for the fossil fuel lobby which keeps prices high in a country that is a net exporter of fossil fuel.

We need our own, consumer based lobby. Without it, we just get to pay for others’ profitable decisions.

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