Farmers not responsible for high food prices
ABERDEEN, S.D. -- Farming -- and farmers -- are not responsible for high food prices. Period. As usual when people begin to panic because prices are rising, they also begin looking for someone -- or something -- to pin the blame on, especially a ...
ABERDEEN, S.D. -- Farming -- and farmers -- are not responsible for high food prices.
As usual when people begin to panic because prices are rising, they also begin looking for someone -- or something -- to pin the blame on, especially a segment that has earned some recent financial success.
In the case of skyrocketing food prices, many people seem to be looking to blame farming -- a physiological form of farmer envy.
To suggest that farming is the root cause of today's economic crisis is just nonfarm state demagoguery. It plays well on both coasts but solves nothing other than further exacerbating the misinformation surrounding our current national economic woes.
According to a recent report from the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, a variety of factors are contributing to the increases in food prices. They range from weather-related production shortfalls to declining stock levels and from increased transportation costs to the changing structure of demand caused by economic growth in emerging countries, as well as the emerging biofuels market.
All of those factors combine to make something like "the perfect storm," which has produced this steep and seemingly steady increase in food prices.
Scott VanderWal, president of the South Dakota Farm Bureau, says, "The value that farmers receive for their products makes up only 20 (percent) to 25 percent of the food dollar. There are numerous other factors beyond commodities that are also contributing to food prices here in the United States."
VanderWal says export embargoes, energy increases, marketing costs and the decreasing value of the U.S. dollar are all affecting food prices, too.
Farming -- and farmers -- cannot be the scapegoat for this current crisis. That kind of easy blame game is better left to small-minded politicians and large-mouthed imbeciles.
-- Aberdeen (S.D.) American News
Look at cellulosic ethanol
PRINCE ALBERT, Saskatchewan -- At a time most critically needed,
Douglas Auld has produced a literary knife that hopefully will slice through the political rhetoric about ethanol production.
A 20-page document produced by University of Guelph economist
Douglas Auld suggests that the current treatment toward ethanol might be worth a second look. In fact, he says that if we continue to woo ethanol under current practices, the result will be greater food costs and with little reduction in greenhouse gases despite staggering cost.
"Public funds contribute approximately $368 for each (metric ton) of CO2 reduced, roughly seven times greater than the cost of alternative policy measures," Auld writes in "The Ethanol Trap: Why Policies to Promote Ethanol as Fuel Need Rethinking." Government spending is also excessive under current models, he adds.
We're not suggesting we re-open the debate about global warming or energy conservation here, nor is Auld. But his work suggests that we here in the prairies -- an area touted for its potential ethanol production -- should look at alternate processes such as cellulose conversion. That means more attention to cutting-edge technology proposed for the possible Iogen facility in the Prince Albert area, where tree waste and straw would be used to generate ethanol, not fertilizer-intensive corn.
On that front, Auld suggests that governments move away from supporting corn and wheat ethanol (Auld cites a subsidy of $2 billion). It's not worth it, he argues, noting increased food prices linked to ethanol production cost Canadians $400 million annually.
The problem with Auld's study is that it contains logical, rational examination -- which never mixes well with political rhetoric. The author's concluding statement is telling.
"It will take political will to admit that current policy is misguided, and offers little if any contribution to reducing greenhouse gases." Our political leaders must diversify, and look beyond one-stop, quick-fix solutions to our growing energy and greenhouse gas crisis.
-- Prince Albert (Saskatchewan) Daily Herald