Iowa Senator: Ethanol Over Food Worries "A Big Joke"

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Speaking to The New York Times, Republican Senator Charles E Grassley made no secret of his contempt for "foreign officials" at a Washington conference on food prices. Grassley says biofuels are not to blame for recent food price spikes and the resulting political instability (e.g. Haiti's riots). "He questioned why they were not also blaming a drought in Australia that reduced the wheat crop and the growing demand for meat in China and India. 'You make ethanol out of corn,' he said. 'I bet if I set a bushel of corn in front of any of those delegates, not one of them would eat it.' Equally unsurprising (if slightly more conciliatory), the president of The National Corn Grower's Association says ethanol production has a minor impact on food prices and supply. "There’s no question that they are a factor," admits Ron Litterr. "But they are really a smaller factor than other things that are driving up prices." Yes, well, the Old Gray Lady reports that "a fifth of the nation’s corn crop is now used to brew ethanol for motor fuel, and as farmers have planted more corn, they have cut acreage of other crops, particularly soybeans. That, in turn, has contributed to a global shortfall of cooking oil." So ethanol might not be "the" problem, but it's "a" problem. And that's going to get… better?

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Apr 15, 2008

    Brian, I think you pretty well missed my point. Also, I haven't farmed, but I have ranched. It was tough work, but rewarding. Just like anything else, if it's not worth it to you, don't do it. I may not be your typical farm landlord, but I am one. A man much wealthier than I (a farmer) rents the land from me, and I am glad to take whatever I can get. I would sell him the land, but my two partners (relatives) refuse to go along. You might want to look into what those people will do with their land if you choose not to lease it. We have really no other option as our 80 acres is surrounded by our tenant's property. No one else would likely want to farm it. I would rent it to him for a dollar just for taking care of it, and keeping it tax exempt. Back to my original point. You can't slough the blame without doing something about it. Either you and the other farmers move your political support, or take the blame. If you can't stand the heat, you can get out of the kitchen. As I see it, you deserve the blame. I have seen nothing that would lead me to question that, from you, or anyone else. Farm policy in this country, at least as far as I know, is a direct consequence of the influence of farmers.

  • 97escort 97escort on Apr 15, 2008

    Sen. Grassley is absolutely right. I'm not a Republican, but when it comes to corn and ethanol he knows what he is talking about. To bad the anti ethanol crowd doesn't have a clue. Peak Oil is here. What are cars going to run on as the supply of oil slowly declines? Ethanol is a partial answer for awhile until the energy crunch gets really bad. Then who knows?

  • Engineer Engineer on Apr 16, 2008
    Sen. Grassley is absolutely right. Did you manage to type that without bursting out in giggles? Amazing feat! Peak Oil is here. Maybe. Maybe not. Your solution: to burn food? How is Peak Food a solution to Peak Oil?
  • Stein X Leikanger Stein X Leikanger on Apr 16, 2008

    The Brazilian oil field. Turns out it was very hard to get official confirmation of the size of this field, and even to get official confirmation of the source of that press release ... there's very likely quite a bit of oil off Brazil's coast. But the extraction is difficult, in extremely deep water, and with the oili in hard to get at pockets.. As to the plight of farmers. Hear about the Irish farmer who won a million pounds in the lottery? "So, what will you be doing with the money?" "I reckon I'll farm until that money's gone too."