In defense of ethanol

By Don Hutchens, Executive Director, published in Norfolk Daily News on Monday, May 2, 2011

I have found it not only my responsibility, but also an honor, to defend what corn farmers have done not only in Nebraska, but also across the United States as they helped develop and construct an ethanol industry.

It is disingenuous for others who think they know more about production agriculture and want to blame farmers for converting corn to ethanol as the culprit of higher food prices, and they think the solution is to promote the collapse of the corn/ethanol industry.

They fail to mention a few key facts: Like the fact farmers are growing more corn than ever on fewer acres with less fuel, less water, less chemicals and less soil erosion.

Or the fact when corn prices spiked up to $7 a bushel in 2008 and then back down to $3 a few months later and were as low as $3 earlier in 2010 — did food prices decrease when the price of corn dropped? No.

Little corn goes directly into food. Most of the corn is field corn that is processed into ethanol and livestock feed, and when processed into ethanol, a third of that corn comes back as distillers grains, which is a high-quality feed product.

Stop and think that the oil companies aren’t very excited to see ethanol plants produce fuel. And don’t for a second think that ethanol is the only fuel source that has subsidies.
The oil interest collects billions of dollars. Do we really want to see the collapse of the ethanol industry as Mr. Harley Tejkl propose?

Think about 24 ethanol plants in Nebraska, the jobs, the tax revenue, the ethanol and distillers grains they produce, and the economic stimulus they bring to those communities.

Watch the first-quarter earnings for oil companies. Think about why we really are paying $120 a barrel for oil. When we are dependent on 65 percent of our oil from countries that don’t even like us very much, and when we pay tremendous price in human and financial resources, do we really want to collapse one of the best homegrown, renewable fuel sources we have?

Do we really want to see corn prices go back to $2 a bushel corn, $5 beans, lower yields, less investment in agriculture and a collapse of what many rural communities have worked to develop? Instead, we can just become further dependent on oil all in hopes of having much cheaper corn and soybeans.

Wow, that’s progressive.
I think we should compliment farmers for feeding 159 people for every farmer, for providing the U.S. citizen the cheapest, safest, abundant food supply in the world. And for their ability to grow the demand for corn as a feed, food, fuel and fiber.

I support the efforts of corn farmers over the last 30 years to build a renewable fuel industry that is homegrown and not imported from a portion of the world that finds little to love about our country.

I’m sorry that some people are unwilling to accept the fact that I have been paying $2.69 per gallon for E85 instead of $3.49 for regular gas — and at only a two-mile-per-gallon difference.

It all comes down to simple math on the cost per mile. It will fluctuate on how you drive and what you pay for your fuel, but as I stated, these are actual numbers logged over many years and thousands of miles.

    For Your Information

    The RFS Works!