Why does a dairy farmer care about federal biofuel policy? Because this policy has had a significant impact on my dairy farm and thousands of dairy farm families across the country. When Congress decided it was a good idea to mandate the use of corn for fuel, the price of corn, soybeans and other animal feeds, and human food, escalated. This has had a negative impact on my farm and my family.
|These commodity prices started increasing rapidly in 2007|
The ethanol mandate consumes 40% of the nations corn crop. Supporters claim this policy saves consumers money. I don't see it. Are they counting all the subsidies and mandates that have cost U.S. taxpayers billions? Are they considering the fact that this policy has caused Americans to pay as much as $40 billion a year more for food from soft drinks to beef, according to estimates by Texas A&M University researchers?
Almost all gas sold in the U.S. is E10 which contains up to 10% ethanol mandated by the federal government. Production of renewable fuels has been growing rapidly in recent years. At the same time, advances in vehicle fuel economy and other economic factors have decreased gasoline consumption lower than what was expected when Congress passed Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in 2007. As a result, EPA said, “We are now at the E10 blend wall, the point at which the E10 fuel pool is saturated with ethanol”.
I get frustrated when I read articles and hear reports about how ethanol has created an economic boom for rural America and farm families. This is true if you’re a grain farmer or work at an ethanol plant. But it’s been a horrible nightmare for livestock farmers feeding cows, hogs and chickens.
When this policy was created, the animal sector of agriculture was forgotten. National leaders like the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, American Farm Bureau President and others seem to dismiss the impact this flawed policy has had on livestock and poultry farms.
If biofuels, including corn ethanol, are viable fuel sources that make economic sense then they will continue. Biofuels should not be mandated or subsidized. The corn ethanol industry must survive or fail on its own merits.
For more on this topic, check out these two articles:
The Social Silo blog post by Chris Kick "Are grain and ethanol farmers crying over spilled corn? He makes a good point, "I feel for farmers who planted this year’s crop thinking there would be a solid market at year’s end, only to find the rug pulled out from under them. However, I also question why the rug was there in the first place. It is a risky thing when the government mandates the future of our energy sourcing, especially when it’s setting the policy two decades in advance. If ethanol is so great, and saves us all so much money, why can’t the market support it on its own?"
Bloomberg News Editorial "Big oil should win its bid to reduce ethanol in gasoline"
The conclusion this writer comes to, "let the market dictate how much ethanol gasoline buyers use".
Ethanol policy and the dairy producer by Ryan Miltner for Progressive Dairyman Magazine