States Battle Over ‘Food Before Fuel’

According to an analysis by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), “food before fuel” is a fight between states. After reviewing eight waiver requests from governors submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a common argument was farmers in other states have to provide their states’ livestock industries corn. The waivers request a halt, or lowering, of the amount of ethanol that should be blended into fuel as mandated by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The current drought that has impacted the majority of the U.S. is causing heated discussions about who should get the corn.

It wasn’t until recent years that farmers in the U.S. could grow corn at a profit. Instead, most had to rely on federal payments or subsidies. Interestingly, while corn farmers in the Midwest created a new and growing market with ethanol and its by-products, those in Southern states where the waivers were primarily filed, lagged behind the U.S. average in achieving profitability. The core reason: growers were focused on only one market, the livestock industry.

It should be stressed that the corn used for livestock feed and ethanol is NOT the corn used in your corn tortilla. That said, yes, humans are indirectly eating the corn when eating meat (unless the animal was grass fed). But what many don’t understand or choose not to acknowledge, is that one by-product of ethanol production is a high protein based distillers grain, or high-protein animal feed. So you are not losing the entirety of the corn bushel to produce ethanol – that same bushel is also producing feed. In otherwords, a bushel of corn produces food AND feed AND fiber.

The analysis points out, rightly so, that what the growers in the Southeastern states should be looking for ways to increase their profitability. “Additional markets for corn – such as conventional biofuel production – could add value to corn grown in Southern Seaboard states.”

The wonderful thing about market dynamics, and the way the RFS was written, is that they are working. The marketplace is sorting out the difference between supply and demand and to intervene would only create a more negative impact than the drought has already.

Click here to read BIO’s RFA Waiver Analysis.

4 thoughts on “States Battle Over ‘Food Before Fuel’

  1. As the article says, ” It should ne stressed that the corn used for livestock feed and ethanol is not the same corn used in your tortilla.” It should also be stressed that much, if not most, of the corn grown today to be used for animal feed and ethanol is genetically modified ( GMO ) and not safe for human or animal consumption either before or after being processed into ethanol. Very recent unbiased studies prove that genetically modified corn is carcinogenic and produces horrific tumors in laboratory animals. It seems that the genetically modified corn is only suitable for burning to produce heat or rendered in the production of ethanol.

  2. Michael,
    Are you sure you want to start talking about health effects. Do you know what’s in your gasoline? If you drive a car and I am talking a brand new one, consumer fuels don’t really look like the fuel EPA uses to certify vehicles.
    A new car today will still emit up to 10 to 100 million ultra-fine particulates that are coated with PAH’s. There are certainly enough studies that look at health effects living near busy roads and the EPA doesn’t want people to know that 80 percent of our exposure still comes from gasoline spark ignition vehicles.
    Try searching PAH & Breast Cancer, PAH & Asthma or many other health issues. You can’t see UFP’s and EPA doesn’t measure that small of particulates but on equal mass, UFP’s can have 100 times the surface area.
    Steve

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