Food is the new gold

This article, The New Economics of Hunger, is both fascinating and sobering, showing just how interconnected the world’s economy has become and how good environmentalist intentions and arcane investments are translating into actual human beings starving to death. Killer quote: “food was becoming the new gold.”

Here is how the current food crisis happened: The wheat harvest worldwide was mediocre, making for tight though sufficient supplies. But Argentina and Russia decided to ban exports so they could keep their crops for themselves. That meant less wheat on the world market, sending prices up.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., our farmers–who account for half of the world’s grain exports!–had shifted a significant amount of their production from wheat to corn to take advantage of the federally-subsidized ethanol market , which consumes nearly 25% of the current corn supply. So less American wheat meant still higher prices. Foreign buyers, facing the prospect of hunger at home, bid it still higher. Because of the falling value of the dollar, foreigners bought more and more, stockpiling supplies. In the meantime, the collapse of the mortgage markets sent investors into grain markets! Bidding prices even higher!

Now, food shortages and high prices are destabilizing governments in Haiti, Bangladesh, and a dozen other countries. And, after years of progress in fighting hunger in these countries, starvation is back.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Carl Vehse

    Meanwhile, in the U.S., our farmers–who account for half of the world’s grain exports!–had shifted a significant amount of their production from wheat to corn to take advantage of the federally-subsidized ethanol market, which consumes nearly 25% of the current corn supply.

    The negative aspect of the Law of Unintended Consequences (a variation of Murphy’s Law) is often demonstrated by the federal government.

    In this case, the increasing cost of one needed resource is paid for by borrowing from another needed resource; it’s like paying for the bill from one credit card by using a another one.

    Who coulda guess?!?

  • Carl Vehse

    Meanwhile, in the U.S., our farmers–who account for half of the world’s grain exports!–had shifted a significant amount of their production from wheat to corn to take advantage of the federally-subsidized ethanol market, which consumes nearly 25% of the current corn supply.

    The negative aspect of the Law of Unintended Consequences (a variation of Murphy’s Law) is often demonstrated by the federal government.

    In this case, the increasing cost of one needed resource is paid for by borrowing from another needed resource; it’s like paying for the bill from one credit card by using a another one.

    Who coulda guess?!?

  • WebMonk

    I don’t want to minimize the danger, but in the typical journalistic effort to make a story more dramatic, they exaggerated the current effects of the rising food prices. There is certainly a danger that famine could occur, but it’s a lot less likely than the story made it sound. From the story, you would think that there are already people starving – “After hungry mobs and violent riots beset Port-au-Prince,….”

    Those were hardly hungry mobs. Though it is a stereotype, it is based on some reality – Haitian rioting, what a surprise; it’s a national pastime. Snarky comment aside, there is no food shortage in Haiti – the riots were protesting their government since it directly controls most commodity prices. They weren’t rioting because of hunger, but because of the high food prices that were pinching their budgets tight. Bad? – sure. Worthy of riots? – maybe in Haiti. People starving to death? – not even close.

    The biggest danger is that this year is another year of poor harvest levels combines with a continued spike in oil costs. If the major food producing countries have another year of drought or flood, then there’s a very serious danger of true famine. There are a lot of influences (Veith listed a few of the causes) and only a few are directly attributed to stupidity such as the corn/ethanol subsidies. Most of them really are a confluence of extraneous circumstances.

    As the article mentioned, farmers are planting a lot more now, and oil is expected to drop from it’s current highs by the end of the year. Add in the US dollar’s current fall in value compared to other currencies (which makes US foods cheaper for other countries to buy) and I really don’t think food supplies are going to be anywhere near constrained enough to start causing famine.

    Should steps be started to avoid the possibility? Absolutely, but let’s hope that there’s not a panicked reaction. I fear the Law of Unintended Consequences much more than I fear the possibility of famine – the LoUC can cause far more pain and suffering.

  • WebMonk

    I don’t want to minimize the danger, but in the typical journalistic effort to make a story more dramatic, they exaggerated the current effects of the rising food prices. There is certainly a danger that famine could occur, but it’s a lot less likely than the story made it sound. From the story, you would think that there are already people starving – “After hungry mobs and violent riots beset Port-au-Prince,….”

    Those were hardly hungry mobs. Though it is a stereotype, it is based on some reality – Haitian rioting, what a surprise; it’s a national pastime. Snarky comment aside, there is no food shortage in Haiti – the riots were protesting their government since it directly controls most commodity prices. They weren’t rioting because of hunger, but because of the high food prices that were pinching their budgets tight. Bad? – sure. Worthy of riots? – maybe in Haiti. People starving to death? – not even close.

    The biggest danger is that this year is another year of poor harvest levels combines with a continued spike in oil costs. If the major food producing countries have another year of drought or flood, then there’s a very serious danger of true famine. There are a lot of influences (Veith listed a few of the causes) and only a few are directly attributed to stupidity such as the corn/ethanol subsidies. Most of them really are a confluence of extraneous circumstances.

    As the article mentioned, farmers are planting a lot more now, and oil is expected to drop from it’s current highs by the end of the year. Add in the US dollar’s current fall in value compared to other currencies (which makes US foods cheaper for other countries to buy) and I really don’t think food supplies are going to be anywhere near constrained enough to start causing famine.

    Should steps be started to avoid the possibility? Absolutely, but let’s hope that there’s not a panicked reaction. I fear the Law of Unintended Consequences much more than I fear the possibility of famine – the LoUC can cause far more pain and suffering.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Once again, Dr. Veith, you mention “good environmentalist intentions”, seemingly in connection with ethanol. While I don’t doubt that there are some environmentalists somewhere who backed ethanol, can you cite something to explain why you keep pinning the push for ethanol fuel on environmentalists (you did this in “Burn oil, not food” as well)?

    As I commented in that entry, the main reason behind the current ethanol push is the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which was a Republican-pushed bill that many environmentalists opposed for many reasons (mainly as a giveaway to the petroleum industry).

    Here’s a quote from an article on the Energy Policy Act that tells you why ethanol was put into the bill (hint: not so much due to the power the environmentalist lobby had in 2005):

    “This tax credit is another way to encourage the use of ethanol, which will benefit the environment, reduce our nation’s dependency on foreign oil – and help our farmers,” said Hastert, who worked to ensure the provision was included in the legislation as it benefits the corn growers of Illinois.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Once again, Dr. Veith, you mention “good environmentalist intentions”, seemingly in connection with ethanol. While I don’t doubt that there are some environmentalists somewhere who backed ethanol, can you cite something to explain why you keep pinning the push for ethanol fuel on environmentalists (you did this in “Burn oil, not food” as well)?

    As I commented in that entry, the main reason behind the current ethanol push is the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which was a Republican-pushed bill that many environmentalists opposed for many reasons (mainly as a giveaway to the petroleum industry).

    Here’s a quote from an article on the Energy Policy Act that tells you why ethanol was put into the bill (hint: not so much due to the power the environmentalist lobby had in 2005):

    “This tax credit is another way to encourage the use of ethanol, which will benefit the environment, reduce our nation’s dependency on foreign oil – and help our farmers,” said Hastert, who worked to ensure the provision was included in the legislation as it benefits the corn growers of Illinois.

  • Don S

    tODD, if you are saying you oppose mandating ethanol as an oxygenate for motor fuel, I completely agree with you. However, the concept of using oxygenates to reduce emissions due to the burning of gasoline was one originally pursued by environmentalists. Initially MTBE was the oxygenate of choice, but once it became unavailable due to groundwater pollution concerns, ethanol became the substitute oxygenate. So it’s a bit disingenuous for environmentalists now to wash their hands of the ethanol mess — the ball started rolling due to their efforts.

    As for the Energy Policy Act of 2005, it was a horrible law. But, again, it is disingenous to call it “Republican – pushed”, at least with respect to the ethanol mandates it instituted. As you acknowledge, the only reason democrats opposed earlier versions of the bill were because of tax credits and incentives granted to the energy industry, not because they opposed the ethanol mandates. Those mandates were supported equally by both parties (except for CA elected representatives, who saw what would happen in our state), and both parties deserve full “credit” for this situation we find ourselves in now.

    The problem with government mandates and programs is always the creation of dependent “clients” of those mandates and programs, who will forever do everything in their power to ensure that the program or mandate on which they are dependent never goes away, no matter how horrible and misguided it is. A lesson one would think we all would learn when we propose new programs and mandates. Examples include single payer or mandatory health insurance, which will obviously produce similar dependent classes of all stripes, or the so-called “California Environmental Quality Act” (AB 32), which mandates unilateral carbon emission reductions in California, and which is now creating an entire new class of litigators who are inserting themselves into every land use decision undertaken in the state.

    But we never do learn these lessons, do we? The lure of an easy government panacea is too great.

  • Don S

    tODD, if you are saying you oppose mandating ethanol as an oxygenate for motor fuel, I completely agree with you. However, the concept of using oxygenates to reduce emissions due to the burning of gasoline was one originally pursued by environmentalists. Initially MTBE was the oxygenate of choice, but once it became unavailable due to groundwater pollution concerns, ethanol became the substitute oxygenate. So it’s a bit disingenuous for environmentalists now to wash their hands of the ethanol mess — the ball started rolling due to their efforts.

    As for the Energy Policy Act of 2005, it was a horrible law. But, again, it is disingenous to call it “Republican – pushed”, at least with respect to the ethanol mandates it instituted. As you acknowledge, the only reason democrats opposed earlier versions of the bill were because of tax credits and incentives granted to the energy industry, not because they opposed the ethanol mandates. Those mandates were supported equally by both parties (except for CA elected representatives, who saw what would happen in our state), and both parties deserve full “credit” for this situation we find ourselves in now.

    The problem with government mandates and programs is always the creation of dependent “clients” of those mandates and programs, who will forever do everything in their power to ensure that the program or mandate on which they are dependent never goes away, no matter how horrible and misguided it is. A lesson one would think we all would learn when we propose new programs and mandates. Examples include single payer or mandatory health insurance, which will obviously produce similar dependent classes of all stripes, or the so-called “California Environmental Quality Act” (AB 32), which mandates unilateral carbon emission reductions in California, and which is now creating an entire new class of litigators who are inserting themselves into every land use decision undertaken in the state.

    But we never do learn these lessons, do we? The lure of an easy government panacea is too great.

  • Richard Lewer

    On the other hand, the government will save a huge amount of money by not having to subsidize the price of corn and probably other crops also. Farmers may make a profit from farming instead of from government payments. In addition the highly subsidized cotton cost to the government will change since there is a big shift from unneeded amounts of cotton to grain.

  • Richard Lewer

    On the other hand, the government will save a huge amount of money by not having to subsidize the price of corn and probably other crops also. Farmers may make a profit from farming instead of from government payments. In addition the highly subsidized cotton cost to the government will change since there is a big shift from unneeded amounts of cotton to grain.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Don S (@4), as I currently understand things, I do oppose mandating the addition ethanol to gasoline, especially for environmental reasons. Many good arguments have been made, by those more knowledgeable than me, that ethanol is inefficient (as it takes more energy at a system level to produce a volume of ethanol than is contained in that ethanol) and environmentally deleterious (mainly due to modern agricultural practices; cf. the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico).

    Your statements on oxygenates in general may be true (I’d have to learn more), but I’ve only responded (here and at “Burn oil, not food”) to Veith’s claim that the problems with ethanol are the fault of “environmentalists”. Blaming environmentalists, as you seem to do, for supporting ethanol in particular by supporting oxygenates in general is itself disingenuous. If you want to cite statements — as I have asked for at least twice now — from environmentalists supporting ethanol, let’s discuss those. But to blame a potentially good principle for a poor application of that principle is silly, unless it can be shown that the principle itself is bad, or that those supporting the principle support all applications of it.

    As for your statement that “it is disingenous to call it ‘Republican-pushed’, at least with respect to the ethanol mandates it instituted,” that is all sorts of twisting! First of all, what I labeled as “Republican-pushed” was the whole bill, as you can plainly read. And the bill was very much pushed by Republicans — all of its sponsors and cosponsors have an R after their names. And while, yes, 57% of Democrats in the Senate did vote for it, 88% of Republicans did. I’m too lazy to count the House.

    As to the charge you make that ethanol mandates in that bill were not “Republican-pushed” — a point I didn’t touch on — what is your evidence? I’ll grant that the four Democratic senators from Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa (to guess at three states likely to support and produce ethanol) voted for the bill, but I don’t know what they thought about the “mandate”. Since there’s no voting record I’m aware of for the ethanol tax credit itself, the only overt support I found (using a quick Google search, I’ll admit) for that credit came from the (Republican) Speaker of the House at that time. Do you have evidence for your counterargument?

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Don S (@4), as I currently understand things, I do oppose mandating the addition ethanol to gasoline, especially for environmental reasons. Many good arguments have been made, by those more knowledgeable than me, that ethanol is inefficient (as it takes more energy at a system level to produce a volume of ethanol than is contained in that ethanol) and environmentally deleterious (mainly due to modern agricultural practices; cf. the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico).

    Your statements on oxygenates in general may be true (I’d have to learn more), but I’ve only responded (here and at “Burn oil, not food”) to Veith’s claim that the problems with ethanol are the fault of “environmentalists”. Blaming environmentalists, as you seem to do, for supporting ethanol in particular by supporting oxygenates in general is itself disingenuous. If you want to cite statements — as I have asked for at least twice now — from environmentalists supporting ethanol, let’s discuss those. But to blame a potentially good principle for a poor application of that principle is silly, unless it can be shown that the principle itself is bad, or that those supporting the principle support all applications of it.

    As for your statement that “it is disingenous to call it ‘Republican-pushed’, at least with respect to the ethanol mandates it instituted,” that is all sorts of twisting! First of all, what I labeled as “Republican-pushed” was the whole bill, as you can plainly read. And the bill was very much pushed by Republicans — all of its sponsors and cosponsors have an R after their names. And while, yes, 57% of Democrats in the Senate did vote for it, 88% of Republicans did. I’m too lazy to count the House.

    As to the charge you make that ethanol mandates in that bill were not “Republican-pushed” — a point I didn’t touch on — what is your evidence? I’ll grant that the four Democratic senators from Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa (to guess at three states likely to support and produce ethanol) voted for the bill, but I don’t know what they thought about the “mandate”. Since there’s no voting record I’m aware of for the ethanol tax credit itself, the only overt support I found (using a quick Google search, I’ll admit) for that credit came from the (Republican) Speaker of the House at that time. Do you have evidence for your counterargument?

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Richard (@5), I missed the part where anyone in power said that ethanol production will result in an end to subsidies for corn or other crops. Can you point to a reference?

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Richard (@5), I missed the part where anyone in power said that ethanol production will result in an end to subsidies for corn or other crops. Can you point to a reference?

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    tODD, environmentalists now may be backing off of ethanol, but a few years ago, when the ethanol mandates were written into law, they were strongly supporting them. Al Gore more than just about anyone. He cast a key vote “saving” the measure. As for the Sierra Club, how about this slick promotion of ethanol in Iowa?:

    http://www.sierraclub.org/energy/biofuels/iowa/IowaBiofuelsReport.pdf

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    tODD, environmentalists now may be backing off of ethanol, but a few years ago, when the ethanol mandates were written into law, they were strongly supporting them. Al Gore more than just about anyone. He cast a key vote “saving” the measure. As for the Sierra Club, how about this slick promotion of ethanol in Iowa?:

    http://www.sierraclub.org/energy/biofuels/iowa/IowaBiofuelsReport.pdf

  • Richard Lewer

    Todd,
    It’s not what anyone said. It is what is happening. Crops are subsidized at a certain price level. Above that level there is no subsidy. Previous prices were below the level of the cost of production.

    It’s called economics 101.

  • Richard Lewer

    Todd,
    It’s not what anyone said. It is what is happening. Crops are subsidized at a certain price level. Above that level there is no subsidy. Previous prices were below the level of the cost of production.

    It’s called economics 101.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Dr. Veith, I think some specifics would really help me to understand what you’re referring to (@8). Al Gore obviously didn’t cast any vote in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. So to which “ethanol mandates … written into law” do you refer?

    And I’d still like for somebody to cite some actual position taken by a specific environmentalist group back in the day regarding ethanol. I don’t doubt that such positions exist, but nor is there any value in talking about vague, unnamed, shadowy “environmentalists”. Someone is being blamed for supporting ethanol (and for whatever reason, it’s not Congress), so who is it?

    Furthermore, I thought, since both of your recent entries discussing ethanol also concerned food, that it was understood we were discussing corn-based ethanol. Most of the arguments I raised (@6: inefficiencies of energy and pollution from agriculture) may only apply to ethanol derived from corn, as far as I know.

    And calling that Sierra Club PDF a “slick promotion of ethanol” rather misses the point: it’s a promotion of non-corn-based ethanol (so-called “second-generation biofuels”), coming down pretty hard on ethanol made from corn:

    One of the limits to grain ethanol, both in Iowa and nationwide, is the amount of land available for growing the feedstock. Even if the entire U.S. corn harvest for 2006-07 were devoted to ethanol, it would still provide only enough fuel to replace 15 percent of current national gasoline use. The other main limit to corn ethanol is the ability of the environment to cope with more acres under production, and the associated rise in fertilizer and pesticide use. Currently, more fertilizer is used for corn than for any other U.S. crop — so much, in fact, that 70 percent of the energy inputs needed to grow the corn is embodied just in the fertilizer. Producing chemical fertilizers is one of the most carbon-intensive processes associated with ethanol production. Iowa’s transition to a sustainable, second-generation biofuels industry will likely mean lower environmental costs to the state and higher economic benefits. Fuel production will likely require less land, and the prime cellulosic crops such as native prairie grasses and wood (from trees grown specifically as energy crops) should require few chemical inputs while increasing the carbon sequestered in the soil.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Dr. Veith, I think some specifics would really help me to understand what you’re referring to (@8). Al Gore obviously didn’t cast any vote in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. So to which “ethanol mandates … written into law” do you refer?

    And I’d still like for somebody to cite some actual position taken by a specific environmentalist group back in the day regarding ethanol. I don’t doubt that such positions exist, but nor is there any value in talking about vague, unnamed, shadowy “environmentalists”. Someone is being blamed for supporting ethanol (and for whatever reason, it’s not Congress), so who is it?

    Furthermore, I thought, since both of your recent entries discussing ethanol also concerned food, that it was understood we were discussing corn-based ethanol. Most of the arguments I raised (@6: inefficiencies of energy and pollution from agriculture) may only apply to ethanol derived from corn, as far as I know.

    And calling that Sierra Club PDF a “slick promotion of ethanol” rather misses the point: it’s a promotion of non-corn-based ethanol (so-called “second-generation biofuels”), coming down pretty hard on ethanol made from corn:

    One of the limits to grain ethanol, both in Iowa and nationwide, is the amount of land available for growing the feedstock. Even if the entire U.S. corn harvest for 2006-07 were devoted to ethanol, it would still provide only enough fuel to replace 15 percent of current national gasoline use. The other main limit to corn ethanol is the ability of the environment to cope with more acres under production, and the associated rise in fertilizer and pesticide use. Currently, more fertilizer is used for corn than for any other U.S. crop — so much, in fact, that 70 percent of the energy inputs needed to grow the corn is embodied just in the fertilizer. Producing chemical fertilizers is one of the most carbon-intensive processes associated with ethanol production. Iowa’s transition to a sustainable, second-generation biofuels industry will likely mean lower environmental costs to the state and higher economic benefits. Fuel production will likely require less land, and the prime cellulosic crops such as native prairie grasses and wood (from trees grown specifically as energy crops) should require few chemical inputs while increasing the carbon sequestered in the soil.

  • Don S

    tODD, we definitely agree on the ethanol issue.

    Let me turn the question around. You seem to be suggesting that the environmentalists had nothing to do with the ethanol mandates, and that these mandates were solely the desire of those rascally republicans. What is your support for that position? Oxygenates were first required in the Federal Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 (http://www.arb.ca.gov/fuels/gasoline/oxy/oxy.htm). This was a democratically sponsored bill (18 of 22 co-sponsors were democrats and the other 4 were RINO’s (Jeffords, Chafee, Wilson, Warner). All but 5 of the no votes on final passage were Republicans. This act was strongly supported by environmentalists. But for the mandates imposed by this act regarding oxygenation, the ethanol mandates would not have been later imposed in the 2005 act. Now, it may well be that, in the meantime, some environmentalists have become wary of using ethanol on a large scale as a motor fuel additive, but that doesn’t absolve them of responsibility for initiating the requirements for all of these boutique fuel blending mandates that have been imposed over the past 20 years. Rather, it is evidence for the contention I made in my earlier post that any efforts to impose government mandates should be considered very carefully, because once programs and mandates are in place, they take on a life of their own, due to the parasite classes that come to depend upon them.

    I have not heard of any serious environmentalist push to repeal the oxygenate mandate. Until that happens, it is reasonable to hold them responsible for the predicament we are in.

    As for the democrats’ continued push for the ethanol mandates, view Nancy Pelosi’s page at http://www.speaker.gov/legislation?id=0133, promoting the Energy Independence and Security Act, which will increase the mandate for renewable fuels (primarily ethanol) from the current 9 billion gallons to 36 billion gallons by 2022. She also states the following: “Takes steps to improve distribution of biofuels by studying the adequacy of railroad infrastructure for the delivery of ethanol as well as the feasibility of the construction of dedicated ethanol pipelines. Transporting ethanol has been a hindrance to widespread use of ethanol across the nation”. I would say that she appears to be promoting the “widespread use of ethanol across the nation”, wouldn’t you?

  • Don S

    tODD, we definitely agree on the ethanol issue.

    Let me turn the question around. You seem to be suggesting that the environmentalists had nothing to do with the ethanol mandates, and that these mandates were solely the desire of those rascally republicans. What is your support for that position? Oxygenates were first required in the Federal Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 (http://www.arb.ca.gov/fuels/gasoline/oxy/oxy.htm). This was a democratically sponsored bill (18 of 22 co-sponsors were democrats and the other 4 were RINO’s (Jeffords, Chafee, Wilson, Warner). All but 5 of the no votes on final passage were Republicans. This act was strongly supported by environmentalists. But for the mandates imposed by this act regarding oxygenation, the ethanol mandates would not have been later imposed in the 2005 act. Now, it may well be that, in the meantime, some environmentalists have become wary of using ethanol on a large scale as a motor fuel additive, but that doesn’t absolve them of responsibility for initiating the requirements for all of these boutique fuel blending mandates that have been imposed over the past 20 years. Rather, it is evidence for the contention I made in my earlier post that any efforts to impose government mandates should be considered very carefully, because once programs and mandates are in place, they take on a life of their own, due to the parasite classes that come to depend upon them.

    I have not heard of any serious environmentalist push to repeal the oxygenate mandate. Until that happens, it is reasonable to hold them responsible for the predicament we are in.

    As for the democrats’ continued push for the ethanol mandates, view Nancy Pelosi’s page at http://www.speaker.gov/legislation?id=0133, promoting the Energy Independence and Security Act, which will increase the mandate for renewable fuels (primarily ethanol) from the current 9 billion gallons to 36 billion gallons by 2022. She also states the following: “Takes steps to improve distribution of biofuels by studying the adequacy of railroad infrastructure for the delivery of ethanol as well as the feasibility of the construction of dedicated ethanol pipelines. Transporting ethanol has been a hindrance to widespread use of ethanol across the nation”. I would say that she appears to be promoting the “widespread use of ethanol across the nation”, wouldn’t you?

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    In case I didn’t make it clear, if you’re going to blame environmentalists for “actual human beings starving to death” or “creating huge environmental problems” (as at “Burn oil, not food”, you should (1) back up those claims with specific groups supporting (2) corn-based ethanol, the subject of both of your broad-brush accusations.

    Once that has been done, perhaps it will be clear if this is something that can be blamed on “environmentalists” in general (sans qualifier), or if perhaps there is a better place to lay the blame (but of course, not corn-state Congress members; we know they are innocent, right? I mean, when else has a desire to bring home the pork bacon led Congress to support stupid, wasteful policies?).

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    In case I didn’t make it clear, if you’re going to blame environmentalists for “actual human beings starving to death” or “creating huge environmental problems” (as at “Burn oil, not food”, you should (1) back up those claims with specific groups supporting (2) corn-based ethanol, the subject of both of your broad-brush accusations.

    Once that has been done, perhaps it will be clear if this is something that can be blamed on “environmentalists” in general (sans qualifier), or if perhaps there is a better place to lay the blame (but of course, not corn-state Congress members; we know they are innocent, right? I mean, when else has a desire to bring home the pork bacon led Congress to support stupid, wasteful policies?).

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Richard (@9), I think Economics 101 wholly fails to explain our nation’s farm policy.

    Regardless, the folks at the Heritage Foundation disagree with you. Read their article “How Farm Subsidies Harm Taxpayers, Consumers, and Farmers, Too” by Brian M. Riedl (I think if I post the URL, I’ll trigger this blog’s spam filter).

    Among other things they note, some subsidies are not based on market prices: “Fixed payments are given to farmers based on their farms’ historical produc­tion and are unrelated to actual production.” There are also loopholes in the current subsidy system that allow for manipulation by farmers to get more subsidies than you’d think: “In 2006, national corn prices were only $0.05 below the $1.95 marketing loan rate. Nonetheless, corn farmers received an average marketing loan subsidy of $0.44 per bushel.”

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Richard (@9), I think Economics 101 wholly fails to explain our nation’s farm policy.

    Regardless, the folks at the Heritage Foundation disagree with you. Read their article “How Farm Subsidies Harm Taxpayers, Consumers, and Farmers, Too” by Brian M. Riedl (I think if I post the URL, I’ll trigger this blog’s spam filter).

    Among other things they note, some subsidies are not based on market prices: “Fixed payments are given to farmers based on their farms’ historical produc­tion and are unrelated to actual production.” There are also loopholes in the current subsidy system that allow for manipulation by farmers to get more subsidies than you’d think: “In 2006, national corn prices were only $0.05 below the $1.95 marketing loan rate. Nonetheless, corn farmers received an average marketing loan subsidy of $0.44 per bushel.”

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer TK

    I think its amazing that no one is surprised to hear of “foot” shortages in these countries. Are their feet being chopped off? This is outrageous!!! :)

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer TK

    I think its amazing that no one is surprised to hear of “foot” shortages in these countries. Are their feet being chopped off? This is outrageous!!! :)


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