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Clinton Warns More Biofuels Could Mean Food Riots

February 25, 2011
By: Roger Bernard, Farm Journal Policy and Washington Editor
 
 

Addressing hunger and poverty have been key issues for former President Bill Clinton since he left the White House. And that focus has now found him issuing a warning about producing crops for biofuel production. Specifically, Clinton told those at USDA's Annual Outlook Forum that producing more biofuels could bring food riots around the globe.

"If we produce more biofuels, that means less food and that will bring food riots," Clinton said, even while stressing that the U.S. needs to become more energy independent.

So how to accomplish this? Clinton pointed to Brazil as an example, noting they don't tear down the rain forests to produce ethanol from sugarcane. But he also noted that sugarcane was starting to push soybean and cattle producers from their traditional areas to more marginal areas.

"The best thing to do is to say we have to be more energy independent, but we don't want to do it at the expense of food riots," Clinton stated. "We have to make intelligent decisions."

But with his urging to not grow more crops for biofuels, Clinton assured those in agriculture "there's going to be plenty for American farmers to do." A key question needs to be asked, he added, "is there some way to produce food in traditional way and still get a good price for it?"

"We know that the way we produce and consume energy has to change, yet for farmers there are no simple answers," he said. "There is a way for us to do this and to do it right."

Citing the work of USDA's Extension Service in the U.S., Clinton said, "the world needs a global ag extension service," saying such a program deployed in foreign countries would definitely help bolster agriculture around the globe.

As Clinton began his remarks, he noted he lived on a farm when he was a young boy. He described conditions as being difficult and quipped he went into politics and not farming "as I didn't want to work that hard."

The Renewable Fuels Association certainly took notice of Clinton's remarks, releasing the following statement:

 

"Grain demand from American ethanol production represents just three percent of the world's grain supply. American farmers and ethanol producers are cognizant of developing nations, producing more grain and livestock feed for export than in previous generations. Ethanol production returns one-third of every bushel to the feed markets, resulting in the production of more than 32 million metric tons of feed last year alone. The driver behind rising food prices has been and remains oil. Rising oil prices, even before the unrest in the Middle East and Northern Africa, have made everything we buy from food to clothes to fuel more expensive. President Clinton is right that ethanol is a key to American energy security and we would welcome his support in advocating for the continued advancement and evolution of this industry to include a wide variety of feedstocks and technologies."

 


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COMMENTS (24 Comments)

Cattletrkr - MN
I"ve said it before and I'll keep saying it. Ethanol is a great use for EXCESS corn.
8:14 AM Aug 11th
 
Cattletrkr - MN
I"ve said it before and I'll keep saying it. Ethanol is a great use for EXCESS corn.
8:14 AM Aug 11th
 
NW Iowa Farmer - IA
Sounds like bill wants to fight with the beavers over cigars.

Seems to me the american farmer is producing more energy & fuel in a very effecient manner. Nothing like thinking we need to keep food cheap so china can feed their people cheap food from us and keep taking jobs from here overseas. Heck, we might has well keep sending cheap food for nothing to the terror groups over in the mideast to.

3:22 PM Sep 29th
 
NW Iowa Farmer - IA
Sounds like bill wants to fight with the beavers over cigars.

Seems to me the american farmer is producing more energy & fuel in a very effecient manner. Nothing like thinking we need to keep food cheap so china can feed their people cheap food from us and keep taking jobs from here overseas. Heck, we might has well keep sending cheap food for nothing to the terror groups over in the mideast to.

3:22 PM Sep 29th
 
MARK - LAS VEGAS, NV
There is no moral obligation to sell our Ag products at a loss to keep somebody else's socio-politico economic house in order. As they have proven to us they have no moral obligation to sell us cheap oil so we can produce crops more economically. You reap what you sow in this world as they should begin to realize soon if they stay on their current path. They are just now trying to figure out what is happening. Soon they will realize the time is coming we won't need their oil. This is called the Duh factor. It's about time the American Farmer has a chance to make a profit and maybe a decent living. His rightful place on the economic ladder may soon be realized. Grow more corn, produce more ethanol, develop more crop based fuels for our nation. The American Farmer is at the forefront of an energy revolution. Don't let up, don't back up, stand your ground. You are leading us and the world into the future. The black oil filled hole is disappearing and I can see sun light at the end of the tunnel and the corn grows there. Thank You American Farmer.

Mark Fowler
'
7:05 PM Mar 1st
 
Calvin D. Paulson - Harrisonburg, VA
The noted issue here is that 3% of corn used for fuel, is just enough to create shortage in corn available to farmers producing milk,meat,cereal. In dairy that 3% extra creates a "buyers mkt". Herbicide companies purchased the genetic advancements that would become the ultimate end for them. Biofuels are easily proven to whose benifit? big picture folks, think about it. Humble Bill can speak freely now, just read between the lines. His comments may be the inside track needed.
9:22 AM Feb 28th
 
Cove - FAIRFIELD, WA
In response Susanvs43, you suggest that we should find a new feedstock for bio-fuel. That would require acreage. Which crops do you suggest that we cut back on to grow the new feedstock?
1:21 AM Feb 28th
 
food - Gainesville, FL
I remember when Jimmy Carter went senile too...
10:52 PM Feb 27th
 
NEA - AR
Its good to know everyone knows what the famer needs to do with their grain.Billy knows just what we need to do,but it sounds like he is to lazy to do any work.I didn't know anyone cared till suddenly there is demand,then it effects them.We have oil right here in our back door,if that oil was used we wouldn't need the grain for oil.So who is really taking food out of the mouths of the world?
12:24 AM Feb 27th
 
NEA - AR
Test post
12:07 AM Feb 27th
 



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