The dramatic growth in biofuels made from crops is the runaway favorite for the year’s top stories in agriculture.
“Emergence of biofuels as a factor in the farm economy really came out in 2006,” says USDA chief economist Keith Collins in a USDA Radio News report. “As that became realised in the second half of 2006 we saw commodity markets just explode.”
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Brownfield Network ranked “growing demand during 2006 for crops that are increasingly used as sources of energy and that show promise for other uses” in the “2006 Ag Year in Review.”
According to ag columnist Jack Dillard of the Shreveport Times writes, “For 2006, the two biggest stories and happenings in agriculture were the surge toward ethanol and the drought. Both could continue into next year.”
Agricultural journalist Jim Suber’s column in the Topeka Capitol-Journal puts biofuels in the number one and two spots for top ag stories of the year.
1. The dawning of awareness by the urban public that ethanol exists as a fuel and not just for a bathtub purple passion drink to make you sick on New Year’s Eve. Add other biofuels to the list, and then research sugar and sugar cane and try to sort out that with ethanol and trade tariffs and corn production and corn subsidies and alcohol subsidies. It will take an hour, I promise.
2. The entire biofuels/ethanol complex of thinking along with the skyrocketing dollar influence of commodities funds by investors who wouldn’t know a bushel of peas from a tub of cottonseeds has perhaps built in a new price base for corn and oily crops like soybeans. Maybe.
And from the Twin Cities’ Pioneer Press we read “For American agriculture, 2006 was unquestionably the year of ethanol.”
Indeed it has been.