It was 10 years ago
that I started writing articles on the use of corn for producing
ethanol. I thought it was a dumb idea.
Today, even some of the left leaning media are starting to join the
naysayers about corn-based ethanol.
Why the negativity
you may ask? Well, look at the facts.
In 2001 corn sold for about $3 a bushel and the majority of corn
produced was used for either livestock food or human
Corn use was
starting to escalate in the production of ethanol a decade ago, but
the cost factors involved in converting this grain to useable
alcohol were far more than the end product could generate at the
pump. Thus, government subsidies continued to be
required. Soon the corn growing states were locked in
a money romance with both sides of the political power
base. The Republicans wanted to keep corn-producing
states in their political camp, while the Democrats romanced the
farmers to assure the Corn Belt felt kinship with the donkey
Both parties were
using corn-based ethanol and the need to reduce our
dependency on foreign oil as a reason to subsidize that industry to
the tune of more than $6 to $7 billion in taxpayer dollars a
year. Every dollar of that money was really being
used to buy votes. It also translated into more than
$5.5 billion year in windfall profits for the farm industry and
The sad thing about
this vote buying with subsidies is that it created a situation
where we were using a vital food source to fill gasoline
tanks. Our cattle need corn as a food
base. It is also fed to hogs, poultry dairy cows and
There are more than
500 uses for corn including baby food, cereals, puddings, tamales
and almost uncountable numbers of different food
items. Corn is also used for plastics, explosives,
rayon, dyes, antifreeze, adhesives, solvents, pharmaceuticals, and
soaps and in academic studies.
Because of the move
from general use to selling their crops for ethanol, our farmers
have managed to drive up the prices of every product that utilizes
corn. What sold for $3 a bushel in 2001 is selling
for more than $7 a bushel in 2011…and the public is supporting
those prices by paying more for everything they buy.
What is even more
disheartening is when we realize that ethanol has only increased
our energy independence by 1.1% and reduced our greenhouse gas
emissions by 1/19th of 1%...and for that reduction you
have paid an extra $3.6 billion for gasoline at the pump.
Here are a few
additional facts that should boil anyone’s blood. It
takes about 450 pounds of corn to produce enough ethanol for one
tank of gas. It takes 450 pounds of corn to feed one
person for a year.
If we were to
produce enough corn to end our dependency on foreign oil it would
requires 482 million acres of cropland. Today we only
have 434 million acres of cropland used for all the food production
in the United States.
Want more green