Latest posts by James H. Rust (see all)
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In the January 2, 2013 Atlanta Journal-Constitution was a front-page article titled “Higher corn prices hit stores, chicken farms” written by Dan Chapman.
On November 11, the Desert Condor steamed into the port of Brunswick and unloaded 40,000 tons of Brazilian corn — the first time corn has ever been imported into Georgia. Followed a month later by the Genco Predator, underscores how last summer’s severe Midwestern drought sent prices skyrocketing and hurt industries — North Georgia poultry, in particular — that use corn as a raw material. Chicken growers, producers, retailers and consumers suffered the higher prices.
He further states:
Farmers planted 96 million acres of corn last year, the most since 1937. In the spring, the per-bushel price of corn was about $5. Then the rain stopped, crops withered, farmers harvested only 88 million acres and the price rose to $8.50. … The U.S. Department of Agriculture projected imports at a record 1.9 million metric tons, a stunning turnaround for the world’s biggest producer and exporter of corn.
In order to reduce corn prices Mr. Chapman wrote:
The poultry industry, along with governors of nine states including Georgia’s Nathan Deal, beseeched the Obama administration to waive biofuel rules that produce cleaner gasoline but eat up 40 percent of the nation’s corn crop. The Environmental Protection Agency denied the waiver. Corn supplies remain tight and prices high.
The EPA is fervent in enforcing the Renewable Fuel Standard (RPS) from the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act which have future ethanol requirements of 15 billion gallons by 2015 and 35 billion gallons by 2022. The cost of Brazilian corn delivered to the United States is $304 per metric ton, which gives a value of $580 million for corn imports.
Ethanol from corn is another senseless policy leading to the United States staggering deficit in global trade balance of payments. This is another strike against the folly of requiring ethanol from corn as an automotive fuel.
Ethanol from corn is impractical from its inception. Many studies show it requires more energy to get ethanol from corn fields to car tanks than is contained in the product. Much of this energy is diesel fuel. For those concerned about carbon dioxide emissions; there is no reduction from use of ethanol as a fuel.
Ethanol absorbs water which makes it a corrosive material for storage in metal containers. For this reason ethanol or ethanol-gasoline blends are not transported in pipelines. Ethanol is transported in tankers or rail tank cars. Now there is concern about ethanol blends causing corrosion in underground storage tanks (UTS) with environmental problems from leaks.
Growing corn is very demanding in both soil nutrients and water. Fertilizers are required for year-after-year corn growing. Purdue University reports water requirements of 18 or more inches of rain during the corn growing season. For a crop yield of 120 bushels of corn per acre and an ethanol yield of 2.4 gallons per bushel, water requirements are 1680 gallons of water per gallon of ethanol. Multiplying that number by the 2011 production of 13.8 billion gallons of ethanol from corn yields 23 trillion gallons of required water.
This is more water than required by the United States population for personal use–washing, eating, laundry, and bathroom requirements. Many protesting fracking for oil and natural gas production due to its use of 6 million gallons of water per well drilled should realize this water use is insignificant compared to water requirements for ethanol from corn. It would take 4 million wells drilled annually to match corns demand for water.
The United States is the world’s largest producer of corn which is a major source of food for the planet’s 7 billion inhabitants. Over forty percent of the U. S. corn crop is devoted to producing ethanol from corn which amounts to one-eighth the world’s corn crop. For years the global affect is increased prices of all food staples. It is reported high food prices in the Middle East, where the poor spend all their income on food, is a major contributor to the unrest that caused governments to fall called the Arab Spring. Ethanol from corn is given blame for higher food prices.
For more than forty years strikes are called about the folly of ethanol from corn. When is ethanol from corn going to be called out and the program stopped?
The time is now.