The buzz around the IL Corn office is this Associated Press article released on Tuesday. We have reporters calling the office wanting comments. We have farmers calling the office asking us to please do something. We have frustration in the office because we are all farmers or farm kids ourselves and to see our industry bashed is painful.
Let me start my commentary by being real with my readers. The agricultural industry isn’t perfect. The ethanol industry isn’t perfect. We have corn farmers who do the wrong thing – sometimes because the science hasn’t told them it’s the wrong thing yet and sometimes because they think no one will notice. We have bad farmers. We have good farmers.
We are representative of the industries all over the U.S. We make mistakes. We have successes. We aren’t perfect, but we’re trying.
What makes us different from other industries is that we aren’t corporate. There’s no CEO telling our farmers what to do, how to do it, what to plant, when to plant it. Each individual farmer is just a man, trying to do the best he can for his family and his land every single day. That means reading scientific research, keeping up the latest and greatest technology, and keeping in touch with the land in his charge.
This “reading scientific research” is the part I’d like to focus on. Because while farmers are spending their evenings going to meetings led by University scientists – while they are reading articles on peer-reviewed research to make the best decisions on their land – the journalists who report their stories aren’t doing the same.
The AP story focuses quite a bit on the fact that land has come out of conservation programs and into production. The story blames this phenomenon entirely on ethanol production, but fails to mention that funding for conservation programs was cut in the 2008 Farm Bill; therefore, the number of acres that can possibly be enrolled in the program is fewer after 2008 than before. Farmers can’t possibly reenroll acres in a conservation program that is significantly smaller.
This has nothing to do with ethanol. It has to do with the federal budget.
As another example, Mike Flannery, Fox News Chicago reported that gas prices are dropping, but that they would be dropping faster without 10 percent ethanol added into each gallon. This confuses me because ethanol is about $1.00 cheaper than gasoline per gallon … how can a cheaper fuel make each gallon more expensive?
My point? Think about what you’re reading. Ethanol isn’t perfect, but it’s cheaper, it’s renewable, and it’s domestic. The infrastructure exists now to sell it. The industry is here to produce it. The efficiencies continue to improve. The air quality shows significant gains.
By contrast, gasoline is more expensive. Nearly half is imported. It is not renewable and it is not helping our air quality in the least. It does have a successful industry and infrastructure in place to produce and sell it – which is the real root of the problem.
The oil industry doesn’t want to sell more ethanol. Why would they? It’s like forcing Walmart to stock Kroger groceries on 10 percent of their shelves and give them the profit.
This ethanol bashing in the media is really about the oil industry not wanting to allow ethanol shelf space at their stations. And while we can all understand that, are we going to allow it? Ethanol offers Americans so many benefits.
Think critically about what you read. Do the research. Understand the debate.
And then, you’re probably going to want to fuel up with ethanol.