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2 May, 2008 - I Agree With Farmer Rapp

I can attest to the fact that the “food vs fuel” controversy is escalating. Some of it is getting downright nasty. I have received some unkind e-mails recently, not just from city people who are against the idea of using corn for ethanol, but also from farmers who feel the same way. As a matter of fact, one e-mailer who identified himself only as a livestock farmer, told me I should “engage my mind before I engage my mouth” and he was extremely critical of my support of corn and ethanol as part of our energy solution.

So, I will use someone else’s mind today and quote a letter to the editor written by Jim Rapp, a northern Illinois corn farmer. I can’t quote the entire letter because of space limitations, but here are some excerpts. In the letter to the editor of his local newspaper, Jim wrote “The rapid growth of the ethanol industry tells you all you need to know about it’s performance and viability. It burns cleaner, thus fighting air pollution, ask the American Lung Association; it is made here at home, providing jobs, just ask the 230,000 people already employed as a result of ethanol plant construction, operation and related support services; it provides more dollars into our local communities, just ask local business owners about the increased dollars spent at their stores.”

Jim goes on to say “Consumers who have seen gasoline prices climb more than 40% over the last 4 months want relief and alternatives. We owe it to them and ourselves to explore all of our engine technology and renewable fuel options if we want a fully functional and strong U.S.A., which is less reliant on foreign fuel sources. Right now ethanol is leading the assault to solve this problem and, contrary to opponents of this petroleum alternative, ethanol is a terrific fuel with a proven 67% net energy gain.”

Farmer Rapp, concludes “Do not believe everything you hear about corn’s role in food prices. The number one factor driving food price increases is, you guessed it, transportation. Fuel prices are sucking our economy into a black hole. When you add that to recent rice and wheat crop failures overseas, speculative investors shifting to agricultural commodities in our weak economy and growing populations with increased buying power in China and India, you quickly see corn and ethanol barely make a ripple in the pond of a much bigger issue. Even at today’s food prices, farmers get no more than 20 cents of each dollar spent on food. A box of cereal that contained 2.5 cents worth of corn 18 months ago now contains a nickel’s worth of corn. I think you get the idea, agricultural commodities are not a major factor in the in the price of food.”

All can say is Jim Rapp said it very well and I fully agree with him. That’s why I have shared his thoughts on Samuelson Sez.


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