Going Green

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Corn: Food or Fuel?

The food versus fuel debate continues. The corn farmers are happy.

Siphoning off corn to fuel our cars

As farmers feed ethanol plants, a costly link is forged between food and oil

By Steven Mufson

CHARLES CITY, Iowa - Erwin Johnson picks up a clump of the dark, rich soil that he has farmed for 35 years, like his father and grandfather before him. In a few months, this flat expanse of northern Iowa will be crowded with corn ready to be trucked to market.

A year ago, that market got a little closer -- and a lot better. Instead of sending his corn to a barge company to be shipped down the Mississippi River for export, Johnson now loads it into an open truck and sends it two miles up the gravel road to a hulking new ethanol distillery that he can see from his field. The plant is paying him $5.50 or more a bushel, more than twice as much as Johnson could get just a couple of years ago.

"This is a fantastic time to be farming," Johnson says. "I'm 65, but I can't quit now."

Across the country, ethanol plants are swallowing more and more of the nation's corn crop. This year, about a quarter of U.S. corn will go to feeding ethanol plants instead of poultry or livestock. That has...(complete article here).

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