Editor's note: Read the full study here.
An economist in Indianapolis just calculated that the U.S. is losing a million jobs this year—along with $30 million in economic growth—because we shifted too much of our corn into ethanol. Tom Elam says direct employment in the food industry would have produced three times as many jobs processing and marketing meat as making ethanol from the same corn. Elam calculates the foregone jobs at 941,000. That doesn’t even count the myriad of jobs that would have been needed to support the newly employed one million Americans.
Based on recent history, U.S. consumers got less meat and milk than they would have liked. Consumer spending on these items veered sharply down from its historic trend after President Bush radically raised the nation’s ethanol mandate in 2007. Elam predicts these problems will only get worse. The EPA‘s approval of 15 percent ethanol in gasoline will likely push corn fuel use up faster than corn yields are rising.
Without the ethanol mandate, U.S. feed exports would increase too (a job creator). Also, our cost of driving would come down even as the prices of pork chops, broilers, and hamburger came back within the reach of stressed-out US food buyers.