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Stacked-deck hearing favors ethanol proponents
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or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.
was mostly a stacked-deck field hearing by the Senate Ag Committee on
Monday in Omaha, Nebraska. Those opposing ethanol use mandates and other
subsidies for the renewable energy said they were not given an opportunity
to address the field hearing to note the negative impact ethanol-fueled
corn prices is having on their industry. Ethanol proponents argued that
corn producers have continued to increase both yields and acreage to provide
needed production for different demand sectors.
"There is no doubt that ethanol has contributed to higher
costs for production of food," said Bruce Babcock, an
Iowa State University economist, according to a report in the Des
Moines Register. The article said Senate Ag Committee Chairman
Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) was quick to respond by asking, “Aren't we
missing a point here? What about the effects of increased production?
A few years ago, the idea of producing 150 bushels of corn per acre
would have been far-fetched. Now, we're doing it. More productivity
by our farmers means greater supplies of corn for both food and fuel."
Dean Oestreich, chairman of Pioneer Hi-Bred,
predicted an increase in corn production of at least 40 percent in the
next decade, attributable to new seeds, technologies and
farming techniques. "America's farmers and our agriculture industry
have a long history of effectively meeting food and fuel needs,"
Harkin added, "That is a point that doesn't seem to be made
very often these days."
Kelsey, executive vice president of the Nebraska Cattlemen, quoted in
City Journal, said, "We don't believe it's long-term good
policy to mandate demand. We think demand should be consumer generated
and not government generated."
Kelsey was critical of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).
"Mandating production and usage has never been good over
the long term for any industry," Kelsey said, adding that mandated
production "artificially sets a demand for the raw product that
is unfair to other users."
"Ethanol from corn is an established technology, and
demand should determine how much is produced, not the government,"
Kelsey added, according to The
Grand Island Independent.
"If the ethanol industry were required to compete for corn, as
are all the other users, then the supply of corn would be allocated
by market forces,” he concluded.
"I'll admit corn-based ethanol is
not perfect," Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) said in prepared remarks,
"but it's been blamed for practically every problem
under the sun. What's next? Summer colds? Computer viruses? Bad hair days?”
Comments: The Senate Ag
Committee -- or the Energy panels in Congress, or the Bush administration
-- did not do any analysis of the potential implications of an increased
RFS when the mandate was adjusted late in 2007 via legislation signed
into law. So it should come as no surprise that the same "interested
observers" would not seek or provide analysis even after the mandate
This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or
retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.