Split in the Show Me State

Published on: 11:25AM Jul 29, 2008
Ethanol has created a split in Missouri’s farming community.
The issue of ethanol’s demand for corn and resulting higher livestock feed prices is spurring heated debate across the state, from the Capitol to local farm organizations.
Now, a Missouri House committee says it will spend the rest of the summer studying ideas for keeping both the livestock and biofuels industries sustainable.
Only two years ago, Show-Me State lawmakers overwhelmingly voted to require a 10% ethanol blend be sold in all gas stations. Several lawmakers who voted for the state ethanol mandate sponsored a bill this year to repeal the requirement (the bill did not pass).

Republican candidate for governor Sarah Steelman is campaigning behind a call to repeal Missouri’s 10% ethanol mandate, stating that “since the state mandate was implemented in January 2008, gas prices have risen more than 35%” and that “ethanol is not as efficient as gasoline.” Instead, Steelman proposes to construct an oil refinery in Missouri to create jobs and expedite the delivery of fuel in the state.

The problem is the precedent set forth by Missouri, in which a state government develops a guaranteed market for a product and now wants to close off that market.

Missouri Rep. Charlie Schlottach, R-Owensville, told the Associated Press that his committee won't be looking to justify or debunk ethanol - just identify objective facts to help lawmakers in future public policy decisions. But he does acknowledge some worries about using crops as an energy source. As reported by the Associated Press: "Agriculture's No. 1 focus needs to be on food and not on energy," Schlottach said. "And I think we've taken our eye off the ball.”