Crisis prognosticator Dr. Lester Brown has gotten some ink lately with his predictions of how ethanol production is going to lead to world starvation.
National Corn Growers Association CEO Rick Tolman has a good analysis of Brown’s numbers in a recent NCGA “Our View.” He refutes Brown’s assertion that “the grain required to fill a 25-gallon SUV gas tank with ethanol could feed one person for a year,” especially by noting that he does not account for the distillers grains that are a by-product of ethanol production and fed to livestock.
And then there is this paragraph:
Brown also suggests, “As the price of oil climbs, so will the price of food.” I wish that he could talk with the farmers around the United States that are still getting less than $2 a bushel for their corn. Not even taking inflation into account, the prices paid to farmers today for corn are in many cases less than they were 30 years ago. Meanwhile, oil prices have more than doubled in the past three years. At the beginning of 2004, oil traded for $34 per barrel. As of August 23, 2006, the price was $72 per barrel.
Well noted. Farmers as a breed are among the hardest working, least appreciated laborers in this nation and I get tired of people who infer they are corporate fat cats who live on government subsidies while abusing our natural resources. Nothing could be further from the truth. They work harder than the majority of us who sit in air conditioned offices in the summer while they are sweating out the weather which determines what kind of crop they will produce, and watch the markets which determine what kind of price they will get. Meanwhile, we reap the benefits of the most wholesome, abundant and affordable food supply in the world. Given half a chance, I’ll bet we could produce an abundant and affordable energy supply as well.