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Drought: Farmers fighting over corn...Fuel vs. Livestock Feed

Posted by on Jul. 19, 2012 at 6:44 PM
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Stunted corn grows in a field next to a cattle feed lot in rural Springfield, Omaha, Neb.
Enlarge Nati Harnik/AP

Stunted corn grows in a field next to a cattle feed lot in rural Springfield, Omaha, Neb.

We often talk about the "farm lobby" as though farmers spoke with a unified voice. And it's true, they usually try to.

But an unusually bitter and public fight is breaking out right now between the farmers who grow corn and other farmers who need to buy that corn.

There are two reasons. The first is the drought that's killing corn and soybean fields across the Midwest, sending feed prices are soaring and fraying the nerves of livestock producers, who are wondering whether they'll even manage to stay in business.

The second reason is ethanol.


Farmers who raise America's cattle, hogs, and chickens never appreciated Washington's infatuation with biofuels — especially ethanol that's produced from corn. After all, when the government nudges more corn toward ethanol factories, it means that there's less available for animals. Last year, in fact, 40 percent of the country's corn harvest went to ethanol production.

In good years, when corn is plentiful and prices stay low, no one complains too much.

In bad years, though .... well, this morning, a coalition of groups representing America's livestock and chicken farmers delivered an angry attack on the "Renewable Fuel Standard," which requires gasoline companies to buy a minimum amount of ethanol — 13 billion gallons this year — and blend it into gasoline supplies. The groups released a new study that argues that this ethanol mandate does very little good: It increases the cost of gasoline and makes the country no less dependent on energy imports.

Even worse, the meat producers say, it creates unfair competition for corn. The mandate forces gasoline companies to buF

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by on Jul. 19, 2012 at 6:44 PM
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michiganmom116
by Garden Owner on Jul. 19, 2012 at 8:23 PM
1 mom liked this
Animals weren't created to eat grains. Their (and our) health is better if they are allowed to eat their natural diet of plants (chickens also eat bugs.) Let them have it for gasoline!
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