Ethanol boom divides farmers, ranchers

US - From corn fields to Wall Street, enthusiasm for ethanol is at an all-time high. But not everyone is enthusiastic.
calendar icon 31 January 2007
clock icon 1 minute read

Demand for the corn-based fuel is driving up the cost of feed corn, making it more expensive to feed cows, chickens and pigs.

“It’s hard to see where the future is, if corn keeps going up,” said Kerby Barker, a cattle rancher in southwestern Wyoming. “Anytime you jack up the price of fuel, anytime you jack up the price of corn, it just drives up our bottom line.”

Long-term, it could drive up the cost of food, which is alarming to meat producers and food companies.

Like many ranchers, Barker questions the 51-cent-a-gallon tax credit created by Congress to encourage growth of the ethanol industry.

“The feeling in our area is that all the subsidies going to support ethanol production is really hurting livestock production,” Barker said.

A potential split is in evidence this week during the annual meeting of the American Farm Bureau Federation this week in Salt Lake City. Farm Bureau is the country’s largest general-interest agriculture group.

Its members still are trying to understand the consequences of the nation’s rapid expansion of ethanol.

“We have a bull on the loose here, and it’s going to have a lot of implications for American agriculture and our population,” Keith Collins, the Agriculture Department’s chief economist, told Farm Bureau members Sunday morning.

Source: AG Weekly

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