By David L. Brown
I have to chuckle, except that it isn’t funny at all. I receive a magazine called AgriMarketing that covers the agro-products industry. I featured the magazine’s cover a few months ago when it named Ethanol as the Product of the Year for 2007. Yes, just a few months ago the ag industry was gloating about the wonderful windfall that was occurring, benefiting farmers and suppliers alike, thanks to the emergence of a vast conspiracy to turn food into fake fuel. At the time I lambasted the whole thing as an outrageous crime against humanity. (You can read my diatribe by searching for the article “Ethanol Praised as Food Stocks Fall, Prices Rise,” posted here December 15, 2007.)
So why am I chuckling today? Well, here is the cover of the current issue of AgriMarketing. I think that you, too, will get the joke.
So what is the problem with the livestock industry? Umm, well, it seems that with corn selling at upwards of $7 a bushel, and soybeans at over $15, dairymen, cattle feeders, hog farmers, and poultrymen are losing their shirts — all at least in large part due to the “success” of the ethanol scam. Feed and other costs are eating them alive, and as consumer prices for their products rise, demand will surely fall.
I can testify to that last point by a personal anecdote. A few days ago I was shopping at the nearby Albertson’s super market and noticed the butcher putting out some freshly cut meat. Stopping, I asked him if he had any good deals on lamb.
“Oh, I can cut you some nice loin chops,” he said with a smile.
“Yeah, but what’s the price?” I asked. He took a look and turned back to me with a surprised expression on his face. The chops were priced at $14.99 a pound. I put up my hands palms out as if to ward off a vampire, as he wistfully remarked, “You know, I can remember when you could buy a whole lamb for fifteen dollars!”
Needless to say, that night we ate chicken, not lamb. And, oh yes, before going home I stopped to fill my gas tank with 87 octane regular for just under $4 a gallon at the local Shell station.
There in a nutshell is what is wrong with the livestock industry, what it needs saving from, and in all fairness it is not entirely the fault of ethanol, but that might have been the final straw that pushed things over the brink. It is extremely ironic that the same magazine that was recently touting the wonders of ethanol is now tolling the bell of despair over the gloomy state of the livestock industry. (more…)