For the ethanol industry it's déjà vu all over again as the conversation of food versus fuel is heating up, much like it did in 2008. Among the reasons for the resurgence is a lower yielding crop and a record production year for biofuels. But Executive Director of the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers, Dwayne Siekman, says there are some different ideas he’s hearing from the opposition this time around:
“There were a number of folks that were tying the revolution in Egypt to ethanol and corn, and that was really the catalyst for those people to over-throw their government because they were hungry, because ethanol production has taken more corn production which has taken wheat acres out around the world. So, that’s one of the more interesting things that has come out in the past couple of weeks.”
Other issues affecting food prices include the drought in Russia and floods in Australia that have hampered worldwide production. If food prices continue to rise, the voice of the consumer might also increase in volume, and Siekman says his organizations are trying to debunk myths as fast as they are being created. Where it gets tricky is getting a pro-biofuels message to those in other aspects of agriculture:
“Our organization’s looking at our policy, and you know, livestock is still the number one market for total consumption of corn and distiller’s grains. So, we want to make sure that there’s not an unfair playing field. And I think looking at the federal budget and issues along those lines, we’re taking a hard look about the policies, the infrastructure needs, of both ethanol and exports, and really going back and really looking at what our true beliefs are.”
Siekman says many answers to the food versus fuel debate can be found at NCGA.com . He believes the resources are a good tool for anyone who wants to find out more:
“If you really just take a big, broad look and understand the ins and outs of the marketplace and what ethanol means to livestock and what the corn farmer is doing in this country, you know, it gives you a little bit different perspective on what the whole impact that corn and ethanol have on food prices.”
Dwayne Siekman - Executive Director of the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association.