Corn over Common Sense

October 11, 2013

As Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, and Representative Steve King (R-Ia.), have both told us, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was intended to raise the price of corn crops. And it has — to the point that despite trading at three year lows, the price for corn is still far above the pre-mandate price — which is causing problems for the rest of our agriculture industry.

Because the mandate is fulfilled almost exclusively through corn, farmers across the country are growing more corn than ever, at the expense of other crops like soybeans, wheat and other alternative crops that are usually grown on that same land.

The Chicago Tribune explains: “The federal government has made corn cultivation so lucrative that those time-honored lessons are being set aside. Planting ‘corn-on-corn’ invites a crop disease epidemic.”

This year, in addition to diverting 40 percent of our crops to ethanol, the U.S. food supply will also lose another 10 percent to Goss’s Wilt, a bacterial disease that causes leaf blight and systematic wilt, the spread of which is most easily stopped by rotating corn with another crop that is not susceptible to Goss like soybeans or alfalfa.

Beyond just abandoning the benefits of crop rotations, because fewer farmers are growing soybeans, wheat and the like, the prices of those commodities are also rising. Because ranchers are now competing with refiners for corn, the price of beef, poultry and dairy products are increasing, as well.

The chart above from Flapjack Media shows the huge spike in corn usage since the RFS was enacted.

In a National Journal event on October 9, Rep. King explained that our corn crop can’t meet the mandate alone, and cellulosic biofuels must become commercially available to fulfill the requirement. However, like many of us, he had little confidence this could happen, which means we’ll continue to be reliant on ever-increasing amounts of corn for our fuel supply.

If the government continues to mandate corn above common sense, American consumers will continue to suffer the harmful effects of this failing policy.

Join us to demand reform for the RFS from your Congressman.