Ethanol, Pitting Ranchers against Farmers?

 

In a country where Corn is King, you would assume that rural ranchers and farmers in our countries corn belt would vote for a president who is Pro Ethanol.  After all, most ethanol is made from corn and the U.S. Government is paying farmers to grow it. But a growing number of cattle and pig ranchers are seeing the increased price of corn, drive them out of business.

Sen. John McCain, the Republican nominee, opposes the Renewable Fuel Standard and Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee, supports it. Two farmers from Ohio, offered their perspective on how the presidential candidates’ stances will influence their votes in the Nov. 4 election.

Tim Blair, who has spent 33 years raising hogs, will be voting for Sen. McCain. Tim predicts he’ll be out of business by year’s end, and said “I’ve basically spent my life savings the past 14 months hoping it would get better.”





Speaking of the growing feed prices that are making his hog operation unprofitable, he continued by adding, “I’m losing money because of the government’s policy.” (A mandate that requires 9 billion gallons of renewable fuel such as ethanol to be blended with gasoline.)

In the world of  hog farming, feed accounts for two-thirds or more of the cost of raising hogs and cash prices for corn, reached more than $7 per bushel for a few weeks this summer, almost double what prices had been a year earlier.

When he heard that Senator McCain favors eliminating the Renewable Fuel Standard, he came off the undecided fence, saying, “Amen, brother, he’s seen the light.”

Tom Becker, a 600 acre corn farmer, sees things a different way, and will of course be voting for Sen. Obama. “Ethanol is one of the big things that down the road is going to help farmers more than (Sen. John) McCain’s ideas,” he said.

The debate is a hot one, pitting neighbor against neighbor.  Of course it goes without saying that we don’t see things the way they are.  We see things the way we are, and each of these two men is financially vested in one side of the issue.

Much too often, what is right for us as individuals is not always what is right for Society. In a world that’s not only running out of oil, but suffering because of it’s over-use, the question then becomes, “Where do you stand on the Ethanol question, and how is you’re position based on you’re personal interests?”

Source: Dayton Daily News

Photo: Courtesy of Leoniewise, via Creative Commons License





About the Author

Adam Shake works in Washington D.C. and spends most of his recreational time hiking and kayaking in Virginia and West Virginia with his wife Laura and their 6 year old Rhodesian Ridgeback, Katahdin. Adam is dedicated to the Environment and maintains a website at www.twilightearth.com

  • I’m pro ethanol that isn’t made out of corn which is a ridiculously inefficient source feed for producing the alcohol. If we were truly pro-ethanol in this country then why do we have a huge tariff on imported ethanol from Brazil?? The current ethanol mandate is just a bone thrown to local farmers, would the corn farmer still be for it if all the ethanol was being imported from Brazil?

    Either remove the mandate or remove the tariff.

  • I’m pro ethanol that isn’t made out of corn which is a ridiculously inefficient source feed for producing the alcohol. If we were truly pro-ethanol in this country then why do we have a huge tariff on imported ethanol from Brazil?? The current ethanol mandate is just a bone thrown to local farmers, would the corn farmer still be for it if all the ethanol was being imported from Brazil?

    Either remove the mandate or remove the tariff.

  • Jeff Baker

    Which Party Will Make or Break Biofuels?

    Biofuel is a bright spot in our economy. Corn Belt states now have cheap fuel, expanding economies, and budget surpluses. Biofuel industries are still evolving. Ethanol refineries are coming online in numerous other states: Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Arizona, Oklahoma, Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania, and California. Alternative feedstocks such as sorghum, organic waste, biomass and algae are being introduced. The State of Louisiana and Renergie are building a network of small, localized sweet sorghum ethanol plants, with a 5 to 1 return. Subsidizing biofuels creates jobs, stimulates our economy, and generates County, State, and Federal tax revenue. Money back in your pocket. Every dollar spent on biofuel subsidies results in $10 in economic stimulus. So go figure.

    Merrill Lynch reported that ethanol blended into regular gasoline lowered the cost by 15% and saved 60 billion dollars this year. The new ethanol blender pumps will make a bigger impact, depending on who gets elected President. Typically, blending ethanol with gasoline is done in large quantities by oil companies or fuel distributors. Who ever does the blending gets the 51 cent per gallon tax credit subsidy. With the new onsite blender pumps, the retail gas station will get the tax credit. That changes everything. Retailers are expected to pass along most of the blending subsidy to the consumer. Thus, the various blends, E20, E30, E40, E50, E85 will be about 40 to 50 cents a gallon cheaper at the blender pumps. Cheaper than ethanol already is. The Republican Party wants to discontinue the blending subsidy and take this discount away from you.

    If the subsidy stays, ethanol blended at the pump will compete head-on with regular gasoline. This is why Big Oil wants the Republicans to get rid of the blending subsidy. They are threatened by the coming blender pumps. The American Petroleum Institute and the National Petrochemical and Refiner’s Association are challenging the North Carolina Blending Act. Big Oil is trying to prevent NC fuel retailers from blending ethanol and gasoline at the pump and taking-over the blending subsidy. If retail blender pumps prevail, the blending subsidy will be passed-on to consumers, and the oil industry will lose it. Ethanol blends at the pump will be much cheaper than gasoline. Blends might soon outsell gasoline, as is the trend in Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska and other ethanol producing states.

    The Republican Party receives huge campaign contributions from Big Oil and their intermediaries. Their battle cry is drill, drill, drill, which we need to do. But drilling now will only impact fuel prices moderately, 7 to 10 years from now. And why all the fanfare about offshore drilling, when oil companies already have 6,000 oil and gas leases they’re not using?

    The Republican platform also calls for eliminating the 54 cent per gallon import tariff on foreign ethanol. That would flood the market with imported ethanol and weaken our domestic ethanol industry. The Republicans advocate that we should lessen our dependence on foreign oil by replacing it with a new dependence on Brazilian Ethanol. This would increase our Trade Deficit and the interest we pay on the National Debt, because we pay for imported fuels with debt instruments and Government Bonds. Importing Brazilian ethanol would not save you much. After shipping and handling costs from Brazil to the U.S., oil companies would pocket the rest. The consumer might save a penny or two at the pump, but your hidden cost would be 6% floating interest on imported fuel, paid for with debt instruments.

    By following the Republican plan to end the ethanol import tariff, we would flood the market with foreign ethanol, trade one dependency for another, drive up the Trade Deficit and the National Debt, and pay more revolving interest on imported fuel. Instead, we need to keep stimulating domestic biofuels.

    The subsidies we pay on petroleum based fuel are SIX TIMES higher than what we pay on ethanol, biodiesel and biogas methane, yet big oil companies make record breaking multi-billion dollar profits. If the Republicans want to discontinue Biofuel subsidies, they should also discontinue Petroleum subsidies. But, instead, they fight to keep $50 Billion worth of annual petroleum subsidies intact. The Republican Party is clearly aligned with its benefactor – Big Oil.

    This Republican stance on biofuels is a deceptive and hypocritical double standard, in the face of the American People. The GOP claims they want biofuels to compete in a free market without subsidies, yet they demand to keep the wealthy oil industry subsidized. This is not a level playing field.

    The Republican plan to end affordable biofuel subsidies and to end the ethanol import tariff would Disrupt a sector of our economy that is thriving. It would also cost you 40 to 50 cents a gallon at the pump. Domestic Biofuels are now a key component of our National Security. We need to carry out the bold and aggressive Biofuels Mandate that we already have in place. Disrupting it is poor judgment and NOT in our National Interest.

    The Republican Deception is: Big Oil First. Not Country First.

    OPEN SOURCE, PUBLISH FREELY

  • Jeff Baker

    Which Party Will Make or Break Biofuels?

    Biofuel is a bright spot in our economy. Corn Belt states now have cheap fuel, expanding economies, and budget surpluses. Biofuel industries are still evolving. Ethanol refineries are coming online in numerous other states: Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Arizona, Oklahoma, Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania, and California. Alternative feedstocks such as sorghum, organic waste, biomass and algae are being introduced. The State of Louisiana and Renergie are building a network of small, localized sweet sorghum ethanol plants, with a 5 to 1 return. Subsidizing biofuels creates jobs, stimulates our economy, and generates County, State, and Federal tax revenue. Money back in your pocket. Every dollar spent on biofuel subsidies results in $10 in economic stimulus. So go figure.

    Merrill Lynch reported that ethanol blended into regular gasoline lowered the cost by 15% and saved 60 billion dollars this year. The new ethanol blender pumps will make a bigger impact, depending on who gets elected President. Typically, blending ethanol with gasoline is done in large quantities by oil companies or fuel distributors. Who ever does the blending gets the 51 cent per gallon tax credit subsidy. With the new onsite blender pumps, the retail gas station will get the tax credit. That changes everything. Retailers are expected to pass along most of the blending subsidy to the consumer. Thus, the various blends, E20, E30, E40, E50, E85 will be about 40 to 50 cents a gallon cheaper at the blender pumps. Cheaper than ethanol already is. The Republican Party wants to discontinue the blending subsidy and take this discount away from you.

    If the subsidy stays, ethanol blended at the pump will compete head-on with regular gasoline. This is why Big Oil wants the Republicans to get rid of the blending subsidy. They are threatened by the coming blender pumps. The American Petroleum Institute and the National Petrochemical and Refiner’s Association are challenging the North Carolina Blending Act. Big Oil is trying to prevent NC fuel retailers from blending ethanol and gasoline at the pump and taking-over the blending subsidy. If retail blender pumps prevail, the blending subsidy will be passed-on to consumers, and the oil industry will lose it. Ethanol blends at the pump will be much cheaper than gasoline. Blends might soon outsell gasoline, as is the trend in Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska and other ethanol producing states.

    The Republican Party receives huge campaign contributions from Big Oil and their intermediaries. Their battle cry is drill, drill, drill, which we need to do. But drilling now will only impact fuel prices moderately, 7 to 10 years from now. And why all the fanfare about offshore drilling, when oil companies already have 6,000 oil and gas leases they’re not using?

    The Republican platform also calls for eliminating the 54 cent per gallon import tariff on foreign ethanol. That would flood the market with imported ethanol and weaken our domestic ethanol industry. The Republicans advocate that we should lessen our dependence on foreign oil by replacing it with a new dependence on Brazilian Ethanol. This would increase our Trade Deficit and the interest we pay on the National Debt, because we pay for imported fuels with debt instruments and Government Bonds. Importing Brazilian ethanol would not save you much. After shipping and handling costs from Brazil to the U.S., oil companies would pocket the rest. The consumer might save a penny or two at the pump, but your hidden cost would be 6% floating interest on imported fuel, paid for with debt instruments.

    By following the Republican plan to end the ethanol import tariff, we would flood the market with foreign ethanol, trade one dependency for another, drive up the Trade Deficit and the National Debt, and pay more revolving interest on imported fuel. Instead, we need to keep stimulating domestic biofuels.

    The subsidies we pay on petroleum based fuel are SIX TIMES higher than what we pay on ethanol, biodiesel and biogas methane, yet big oil companies make record breaking multi-billion dollar profits. If the Republicans want to discontinue Biofuel subsidies, they should also discontinue Petroleum subsidies. But, instead, they fight to keep $50 Billion worth of annual petroleum subsidies intact. The Republican Party is clearly aligned with its benefactor – Big Oil.

    This Republican stance on biofuels is a deceptive and hypocritical double standard, in the face of the American People. The GOP claims they want biofuels to compete in a free market without subsidies, yet they demand to keep the wealthy oil industry subsidized. This is not a level playing field.

    The Republican plan to end affordable biofuel subsidies and to end the ethanol import tariff would Disrupt a sector of our economy that is thriving. It would also cost you 40 to 50 cents a gallon at the pump. Domestic Biofuels are now a key component of our National Security. We need to carry out the bold and aggressive Biofuels Mandate that we already have in place. Disrupting it is poor judgment and NOT in our National Interest.

    The Republican Deception is: Big Oil First. Not Country First.

    OPEN SOURCE, PUBLISH FREELY

  • LonnieB

    It’s sad that this, like everything else, has become a political football. It’s especially sad when it is spun to be the fault of one political party, when in fact, ALL politicians have a responsibility in the cindition of our economy and markets.

    Fingerpointing is easy. Any idiot can do it. What is more difficult is to put politics aside and work, as a nation, toward a solution.

    For instance, get away from corn as the main fermentation stock. Crops such as sugar cane and sugar beets produce more ethanol per bushel than corn. Jerusalem Artichokes produce even more than the sugar crops. None of these are used as feed for livestock nor are they subsidized, nullifying the political arguement in favor of progressive thinking, not regressive bickering.

    Demand drives the market. More demand for bio-fueled vehicles will force a change on the automobile industry, which in turn will force oil companies to adapt to the market. When gasoline burners lose sales, Detroit will listen.

    It is naive to believe that all of the savings at blender pumps will be passed on to the customer. Greed is not just corporate, it is personal. These pump owners will see an opportunity for windfall profits and will take them, passing only a fraction of the savings on. Sadly, that is human nature, not politics.

    It seems that our system only recognizes the extremes of corporate greed and naive social idealism.

    You can sit back, whine and blame, or you can get off your glutious maximus and be pro-active. Who knows, you just might invent the next super-widget that burns water!

    I, personally, am working on developing an alternative-fuel vehicle conversion business. How ’bout You?

  • LonnieB

    It’s sad that this, like everything else, has become a political football. It’s especially sad when it is spun to be the fault of one political party, when in fact, ALL politicians have a responsibility in the cindition of our economy and markets.

    Fingerpointing is easy. Any idiot can do it. What is more difficult is to put politics aside and work, as a nation, toward a solution.

    For instance, get away from corn as the main fermentation stock. Crops such as sugar cane and sugar beets produce more ethanol per bushel than corn. Jerusalem Artichokes produce even more than the sugar crops. None of these are used as feed for livestock nor are they subsidized, nullifying the political arguement in favor of progressive thinking, not regressive bickering.

    Demand drives the market. More demand for bio-fueled vehicles will force a change on the automobile industry, which in turn will force oil companies to adapt to the market. When gasoline burners lose sales, Detroit will listen.

    It is naive to believe that all of the savings at blender pumps will be passed on to the customer. Greed is not just corporate, it is personal. These pump owners will see an opportunity for windfall profits and will take them, passing only a fraction of the savings on. Sadly, that is human nature, not politics.

    It seems that our system only recognizes the extremes of corporate greed and naive social idealism.

    You can sit back, whine and blame, or you can get off your glutious maximus and be pro-active. Who knows, you just might invent the next super-widget that burns water!

    I, personally, am working on developing an alternative-fuel vehicle conversion business. How ’bout You?

  • MeMySelfandYou

    If we stop for a minute and take a look at what is happening we will see its long term effect on the world is going to have a bigger impact that we imagine lets put it in laymans terms if I may.

    Lets start with the food versus fuel issue, if we are knocking down our food producers in order of making fuel we are destroying our own life blood, 3 meals missed and civilisation is not going to end but people are going to start feeling hungry, Ah you say we can import our food from cheaper countries, then I would say, where has the energy come from in order of transporting that food and at what cost to us all, if you haven’t got the enrgy to do that you will eventually grow more fuel than food, that day is fast aproaching.

    The levels of timed growth for food fuels, I call it that because we are feeding the refinery with an organic, which would have a time scale before it was ripe enough to harvest as all foods do, now take the oil out of the equasion, which 70% of the ammonia comes from to force along that crop, you would have to encourage those crops along especially if one grew them on some of the wastelands that have been mentioned in another thread, if not the growth pattern would take even longer, see a pattern taking place.

    To cut a long story short, once the oil becomes too expensive and scarce and it will, all trans continental food trade will cease or slow down dramatically, air travel will unviable b ut to the very richest few percent, many plastics will no longer be available, and life as we know it in our cheap,very cheap oil based economy will have to change, that economy is index linked to function on our oil, it doesn’t take much working out.

    Foods is where all our problems will emminate.

  • MeMySelfandYou

    If we stop for a minute and take a look at what is happening we will see its long term effect on the world is going to have a bigger impact that we imagine lets put it in laymans terms if I may.

    Lets start with the food versus fuel issue, if we are knocking down our food producers in order of making fuel we are destroying our own life blood, 3 meals missed and civilisation is not going to end but people are going to start feeling hungry, Ah you say we can import our food from cheaper countries, then I would say, where has the energy come from in order of transporting that food and at what cost to us all, if you haven’t got the enrgy to do that you will eventually grow more fuel than food, that day is fast aproaching.

    The levels of timed growth for food fuels, I call it that because we are feeding the refinery with an organic, which would have a time scale before it was ripe enough to harvest as all foods do, now take the oil out of the equasion, which 70% of the ammonia comes from to force along that crop, you would have to encourage those crops along especially if one grew them on some of the wastelands that have been mentioned in another thread, if not the growth pattern would take even longer, see a pattern taking place.

    To cut a long story short, once the oil becomes too expensive and scarce and it will, all trans continental food trade will cease or slow down dramatically, air travel will unviable b ut to the very richest few percent, many plastics will no longer be available, and life as we know it in our cheap,very cheap oil based economy will have to change, that economy is index linked to function on our oil, it doesn’t take much working out.

    Foods is where all our problems will emminate.

  • MeMySelfandYou

    T second my last,

    In the poorer third world economies, food is very expensive and takes an awaful lot of effort to bring in before it can be converted into the energy to eat and so on.

    What many think is going to happen to these countries is, once our profit from fuel starts to decline, we will no longer be able to get at those foreien foods stuff and trade with those small companies and countries rather quickly.

    A lot of the crops grown in those countries has been converted into non conventional foods that the people cannot eat, for our pleasures, things like coffee and they would most probably be in a position where they can no longer survive on the land they have put over to this and other non edibles, and would really struggle to survive until they planted proper food, and remember the times needed for growth etc, 3 meals and they are already starting to have problems, no food no energy to work etc etc, not a pretty picture.

    You see, or should I say, most of us don’t see, when and how our food is coming to our plates, take away the oil senario and it all changes dramatically, and we are worrying about making enough ethanol and fuel for our vehicles.

    The countries who will be effected the most are the largest populations who’s country would not be able to feed themselves, the ones without any raw materials like metals and fossile fuels, one is Japan

    she has very little metal and coal or uranium, they are going to have real problems, big problems and there are quite a few others like them, and internal wars for food will errupt.

    The developed world with fossile fuel are not going to share their bounty for sure, they are going to need what’s left in order to survive themselves, all the non renewables are eventualy going to run out, some time this century they say, oil will go first, coal will follow suit not long after, then its back to good old nature,

    we have know about this day for at least a 100 years, yet have done very little about it, we might get a miracle energy source to tide us over, but it will have to come from what we already have here on the planet, be it organic or synthetic, but I very much doubt it, judging what we have alreaqdy lost.

    On a closing note, we are loosing about a 1000 species a day due to our fault, is it possible will will be the last to go, but we don’t want to think about that do we, I LOL and probably not alone.

    Please do some math and you might have a slight chance

  • MeMySelfandYou

    T second my last,

    In the poorer third world economies, food is very expensive and takes an awaful lot of effort to bring in before it can be converted into the energy to eat and so on.

    What many think is going to happen to these countries is, once our profit from fuel starts to decline, we will no longer be able to get at those foreien foods stuff and trade with those small companies and countries rather quickly.

    A lot of the crops grown in those countries has been converted into non conventional foods that the people cannot eat, for our pleasures, things like coffee and they would most probably be in a position where they can no longer survive on the land they have put over to this and other non edibles, and would really struggle to survive until they planted proper food, and remember the times needed for growth etc, 3 meals and they are already starting to have problems, no food no energy to work etc etc, not a pretty picture.

    You see, or should I say, most of us don’t see, when and how our food is coming to our plates, take away the oil senario and it all changes dramatically, and we are worrying about making enough ethanol and fuel for our vehicles.

    The countries who will be effected the most are the largest populations who’s country would not be able to feed themselves, the ones without any raw materials like metals and fossile fuels, one is Japan

    she has very little metal and coal or uranium, they are going to have real problems, big problems and there are quite a few others like them, and internal wars for food will errupt.

    The developed world with fossile fuel are not going to share their bounty for sure, they are going to need what’s left in order to survive themselves, all the non renewables are eventualy going to run out, some time this century they say, oil will go first, coal will follow suit not long after, then its back to good old nature,

    we have know about this day for at least a 100 years, yet have done very little about it, we might get a miracle energy source to tide us over, but it will have to come from what we already have here on the planet, be it organic or synthetic, but I very much doubt it, judging what we have alreaqdy lost.

    On a closing note, we are loosing about a 1000 species a day due to our fault, is it possible will will be the last to go, but we don’t want to think about that do we, I LOL and probably not alone.

    Please do some math and you might have a slight chance

  • If your pro corn ethanol your a fool, corn is a major FOOD SOURCE, practically everything has corn in it, to put it in a vehicle is simply ridiculous. We need to get away from foreign oil break up these monopolys where a few big oil companys are controlling everything, lock in crude prices at 30 a barrel, get fuel back around $1 per gallon so everyone can make money, the economy was booming when Clinton was president and oil was $11 a barrel, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out high price fuel is killing us, this country has had it if they dont figure something out soon, George W. Bush is a nut he broke the country and he broke me, I’m sorry to say I voted for him.