Ae we gonna eat or drive corn - Diesel Truck Forum -
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-05-2007, 03:33 PM Thread Starter
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Ae we gonna eat or drive corn

Hereis an article from the New York Times about the future of Ethanol

January 5, 2007
Rise in Ethanol Raises Concerns About Corn as a Food
CHICAGO, Jan. 4 — Renewing concerns about whether there will be enough corn to support the demand for both fuel and food, a new study has found that ethanol plants could use as much as half of America’s corn crop next year.

Dozens of new ethanol plants are being built by farmers and investors in a furious gold rush, spurred by a call last year from the Bush administration and politicians from farm states to produce more renewable fuels to curb America’s reliance on oil. But the new study by the Earth Policy Institute, an environmental group, found that the number of ethanol plants coming on line has been underreported by more than 25 percent by both the Agriculture Department and the Renewable Fuels Association, the ethanol industry’s main lobbying group.

The Earth Policy Institute says that 79 ethanol plants are under construction, which would more than double ethanol production capacity to 11 billion gallons by 2008. Yet late last month, the Renewable Fuels Association said there were 62 plants under construction.

The lower tally has led to an underestimate of the grain that would be needed for ethanol, clouding the debate over the priorities of allocating corn for food and fuel, said Lester R. Brown, who has written more than a dozen books on environmental issues and is the president of the Earth Policy Institute. “This unprecedented diversion of corn to fuel production will affect food prices everywhere,” Mr. Brown said.

Bob Dinneen, the president of the Renewable Fuels Association, said the group had not intentionally tried to play down the number of plants under construction. “It has been a moving target,” Mr. Dinneen said in an interview on Thursday. “We are not trying to hide the ball. We are trying to keep up with a growing and dynamic industry as best we can.”

The Renewable Fuels Association has generally played down concerns in the food versus fuel debate over ethanol, saying that estimates showed there would be plenty of corn to meet the demand for both. “We can absolutely do that without having a deleterious impact on consumer food prices,” Mr. Dinneen said.

The National Corn Growers Association said Thursday that farmers were keeping up, noting that growers produced their third-largest crop in 2006 of 10.7 billion bushels. “All demands for corn — food, feed, fuel and exports — are being met,” Rick Tolman, chief executive of the corn growers, said in a statement. “Farmers have always responded to price signals from the marketplace and, historically, we have had much more challenge with overproduction than shortage.”

With spot prices of corn soaring to record highs of nearly $4 a bushel last month, farmers are expected to plant some 85 million acres of corn this year, an increase of 8 percent over 2006 and what would be the largest corn-seeding in the country since 1985, said Dan Basse, president of AgResource, an agricultural research company in Chicago.

Ethanol has raised the incomes of farmers and given new hope to flagging rural economies. But the reliance on corn to produce ethanol in the United States has drawn concerns from some economists, who question whether the drive to corn-based fuel will push up the prices of livestock and retail prices of meat, poultry and dairy products.

Mr. Brown is among those who believe the ethanol industry is growing too quickly. He called for a federal moratorium on the licensing of new distilleries. “We need a time out, a chance to catch our breath and decide how much corn can be used for ethanol without raising food prices,” he said Thursday.

Like many other experts, he advocates moving past corn-based ethanol into cellulosic ethanol, produced from plant waste and nonfood crops like switch grass.

For now, however, in the anticipation of high potential returns, ethanol plants that rely on corn are being built by everyone from farmers to Bill Gates of Microsoft to a mix of Wall Street investors. In addition to the 116 ethanol plants in production, and the 79 under construction, at least 200 more ethanol plants, with a capacity of 3 billion gallons a year, are in the planning stages.

In all, ethanol distilleries now running or in the works will pull an estimated 139 million tons of corn from the 2008 corn harvest, according to the Earth Policy Institute. That is about double the demand projected by the Agriculture Department and will require over half of the projected 2008 corn harvest of about 11 billion bushels.

Keith Collins, the Agriculture Department’s chief economist, did not respond to requests for comment. One reason for the department’s projection of just 60 million tons of corn used for ethanol is that it was released last February, before surging oil prices set off investor interest in ethanol plants. The Agriculture Department will release its new projections next month.

But the pace of plant construction may be slowing. Shortages of galvanized steel and backlogs for special tanks for the distilleries have pushed construction time back from 18 months to as much as 28 months for some plants, Mr. Basse said.

Some towns are also demanding environmental studies to better understand the impact ethanol plants can have on water supplies and quality of the groundwater, which has delayed permits for new processing plants.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-05-2007, 04:49 PM
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With corn being used for fuel and not rotting on another countries piers, we can now put all of the dormant fields to use. Around here there were less fields with grass on them this year. Ethanol is the way of the future, and it takes our dependance on foreign oil down too.

I'd rather pay an American farmer and lose 1MPG for my fuel than pay a terrorist supporting country. Just my .02

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-07-2007, 01:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Horsehaulin
With corn being used for fuel and not rotting on another countries piers, we can now put all of the dormant fields to use. Around here there were less fields with grass on them this year. Ethanol is the way of the future, and it takes our dependance on foreign oil down too.

I'd rather pay an American farmer and lose 1MPG for my fuel than pay a terrorist supporting country. Just my .02
Amen! What do economists know anyway? Betcha those particular ones work for the oil companies.
I see unused fields all over the place on my route....and thats just a small 120sq mile section of MidMichigan....what does that say about the country as a whole?

I heard that a bushel of corn jumped from $1.50 something to over $3.50 this year. It would be great if farmers could make money working instead of getting subsidies!
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-07-2007, 07:04 PM
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It's a good idea, don't get me wrong, but there are some problems IMO. One problem here is that we have a plant in town here, but we can't buy E85 around here... They ship it all off on rail cars and truck to Denver and the front range! Another problem is I can't see that burning our food supply to make fuel is a good idea. Why not ferment grass or corn stalks? I've seen some articles on it and it looks to work as well as corn.

What about the fuel it takes to cook the corn? Nobody ever seems to want to talk about that little overlooked fact... Our plant put in thier own 4" natural gas line to run just their plant. You can't tell me that they get out more than they put in... If it weren't for the governments subsidy they would be loosing money badly.

The other problem is the byproduct... Around here they tried to get all of the cattle feeders to sign into a contract agreement to use X amount of product no matter what. If the product made it gets shipped even if the lot can't use it fast enough, if it isn't made then the lot gets screwed by not getting it. The kicker to this is part of the contract is that they get direct deposit from the lot's bank account! No way to leverage them then... Feeders are seeing a large drop in grading when using the product so even if it was affordable and easy to use it probably wouldn't be worth it.

I'm all for breaking our dependance on foreign oil, but lets do it in a way that makes sense. The most logical way is for more drilling and exploration in those "pretty" places of the US that the envirofreaks don't want it. Make sure that all US oil stays in the US and not sold to CHINA! Ya get the idea...

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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-08-2007, 01:57 AM
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How bought responsible immigrantion, no illegals, and quit building houses on all our farm ground and well be ok.

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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-08-2007, 06:16 AM
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Where my FIL lives, they have 4 or 5 ethanol plants all within a 100 miles radius. There isn't enough corn grown there to support it is railed in. It has been a boon for struggling small rural towns. My FIL says that the price of corn is so good now that a lot of farmers are now beginning to catch up on past bills and debts.

As for the by-product...I've heard its called distillers grain. Again...around here it gets snapped up by cattle feeders before any has a chance to waste. Its higher in protein than standard grain for cattle, easily digestable, and cattle seem to gain weight quickly with it.

Maybe...just maybe...we can pull some of those CRP acres out of reserve and put them to use growing grain for food or fuel. The farmers earn good money for their crop and we quit subsidizing ground thats growing weeds.

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