By David L. Brown
Yesterday I posted an analysis of the current forecasts for a poor corn crop due to heat and drought, and also mentioned that the obvious step to take is to suspend all ethanol production to free up the approximately one-third of the U.S. corn crop mandated to go to distilleries and into our gas tanks. If the corn crop drops by a significant degree, as seems likely, that mandated amount of corn will take an even larger bite out of the supply, perhaps even surpassing one-half of the total.
It’s deja vu all over again, as Yogi Berra said. Back in 2008 I posted this editorial cartoon that appeared on the cover of Quill, the magazine of the Society of Professional Journalists. (I am a 50-year member of SPJ and am immediate past-president of the New Mexico chapter.)
That cartoon is even more appropriate today, because the USDA is refusing to put a stop to the travesty even though a world food crisis is inevitable, putting hundreds of millions at risk of famine. And today, writing in The Financial Times, José Graziano da Silva, the director-general of the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization, wrote (as reported by Reuters here):
“Much of the reduced crop will be claimed by biofuel production in line with U.S. federal mandates, leaving even less for food and feed markets,” he wrote in an op-ed just a day before the U.S. government issues a pivotal crop report that is expected to show U.S. corn output falling to the smallest in six years and stockpiles at near record lows.
“An immediate, temporary suspension of that mandate would give some respite to the market and allow more of the crop to be channeled towards food and feed uses,” he wrote in a high-profile yet indirect message to Washington.
Obviously, the line has been drawn in the sand by those in charge in Washington and it’s to favor the owners and operators of ethanol plants vs. hundreds of millions of endangered human beings. And not to mention the “inconvenient truth” of food shortages and higher prices right here at home. Already, as I mentioned yesterday, ranchers are liquidating their herds in the face of dried-up pastures and hay crops. How bad is it way out West? I saw a post a few days ago from a rancher in west Texas who said that he’s received just three inches of rain in the last two years. His critters have long since gone to market and he’s facing a bleak future.