The issue of food versus fuel was a topic of discussion among international agricultural journalists visiting Austria this past week.
The group of 250 International Federation of Agricultural Journalists members representing nearly 20 countries was led by former commissioner of agriculture for the European Union Franz Fischler, a native Austrian. Fischler called the food versus fuel controversy “unfair.”
“They don’t differentiate between food price and agriculture price and the agriculture price is usually only a small component of the final food product,” Franz Fischler said during an interview about biofuels production in Austria.
Fischler says second generation biofuels will be key in meeting long term renewable fuels goals for all countries, but it has to start with first generation ethanol from corn. “That’s why we have to start now,” he added.
Austria has ten biodiesel plants but so far only one ethanol plant.
Listen to Fischler’s interview on biofuels in Austria here: [audio:http://www.zimmcomm.biz/ifaj/ifaj-08-fischler-ethanol.mp3]
The president of the Austrian Chamber of Forestry and Agriculture Gerhard Wlodkowski commented on the issue during his welcome address to the journalists. He noted that consumers in Austria are complaining about the increase in food prices, but they “don’t consider that in the year 1970 in Austria everybody spent 33 percent of their income for food and today they spend only 13 percent of their income.”
Wlodkowski said the production of crops for energy is not the reason for higher food prices and, like farmers here in the United States, he says Austrian farmers are quite capable of producing both food and fuel. “The main task of agriculture in Austria will continue to be food but we can still grow the energy crops and that is our motto here,” he concluded.
Listen to Wlodkowski’s translated comments on the topic here: [audio:http://www.zimmcomm.biz/ifaj/ifaj-08-food-fuel.mp3]