The editorial “Stop ‘Big Corn’ ” (Opinion, Monday) did not accurately describe the analysis of ethanol policy conducted by our institute.
The editorial says we at the University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute estimate that the ethanol blender’s tax credit increases the price of corn by “18 cents per barrel.” This appears to be a reference to a report we issued in March that looked at the impact of extending the 45-cents-per-gallon ethanol tax credit, the 54-cents-per-gallon ethanol tariff and the $1-per-gallon biodiesel credit. We estimated that the combined effect of these three policies would be to raise the average producer price of corn by 18 cents per bushel during the 2011-12 corn-marketing year. Individually, each of these policies would have a smaller impact on corn prices.
In addition, the editorial says the Environmental Protection Agency is deciding whether to “boost existing requirements that gasoline contain 10 percent ethanol to 15 percent.” The EPA is actually considering whether to allow 15 percent blends, not whether to require them.
Finally, you cite the cost of the blender’s tax credit as $16 billion per year. That would be the eventual cost of the credit if ethanol consumption reached 36 billion gallons per year and the tax credit were maintained at its current level. We project actual ethanol use in 2010 to be a little more than 12 billion gallons, suggesting that the direct fiscal cost of the credit this year will be less than $6 billion. Without legislative action, the blender’s credit will expire at the end of 2010.
Co-director, Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute
University of Missouri
People always ask me why I got involved in agriculture. I never really know how to answer. I don’t think that any number of words could accurately communicate my answer to this question.
I did not grow up on a farm, or even in a small town. I did not take agriculture classes in high school. All in all, I had an extremely limited agricultural background before I came to college.
But as soon as I became a part of the Department of Agriculture at Illinois State University, my mind was opened to an absolutely incredible industry. Transforming from a typical consumer to a part of this industry has been awe-inspiring. At times, it has also been extremely overwhelming. Agricultural workers have an unbelievable knowledge of the science and technology they use to feed us. Their countless hours of work are a testament to their dedication. Consumers truly do not realize the rich values and knowledge that are present in the agricultural community. In all honesty, I never really knew until I experienced it for myself.
This spring, I had the opportunity to participate in a really important internship. As a part of my internship, I was given the opportunity to organize an Agriculture Awareness Day. I had an amazing time organizing this event and participating in it. More importantly, it made me realize how much agriculture means to me.
Agriculture has helped shaped me into who I am today. It has turned me into a compassionate, hard-working, confident individual. I know that this would not have happened without the people I have encountered in college. Through agriculture, I have met businessmen, dedicated professors, scientists and communicators, among other things.
In an industry with so many unique individuals, it is hard to imagine that we have one thing in common- our passion. I am confident that I could switch my major an infinite number of times and never be a part of an industry as passionate as this one.
So why am I involved in agriculture? In short, it is because of the people. I am proud to be a part of the agricultural community, but above all, I admire the people who stand next to me. It is what keeps me going!
By: Kristin Apple
Corn, corn production, corn farmers, corn factories, and everything else with the word “corn” in its name is under the microscope these days. Nothing is sacred, which is really a travesty because in case you didn’t notice, America is really great a growing corn and isn’t specializing in your competitive advantage what this whole “global marketplace” thing is about?
For today though, I focus on one small piece of our new anti-corn puzzle: High Fructose Corn Syrup. Propaganda pushing media tell us HFCS is killing us and causing an obesity and diabetes epidemic within our country. I’m tempted to blame people who eat too much fast food and don’t exercise, but what do I know?
I know that studies show HFCS and sugar cane sugar are basically the same. They contain the same calories, they are metabolized the same, and they are nutrionally the same. I can appeal to the common sense portion of your decision-making facilities and ask you why a sugar made from a sugar cane plant would be different from the sugar made from corn plant. A sugar is a sugar is a sugar, no matter what vegetation we pull it from.
But some are still critics.
So, in order to combat the latest criticism I’ve heard – that HFCS is more highly processed and thus, somehow worse for our bodies – I submit Exhibit A:
How It’s Made: High Fructose Corn Syrup
And then, Exhibit B:
How It’s Made: Cane Sugar
Granulized sugar doesn’t just magically burst from the cells of a sugar cane plant as you might have thought. You won’t find sweet little sugar cubes as low hanging fruit when you walk the sugar cane field. Sugar cane has to be crushed, heated, cooled, mixed, added to, and a host of other processes I’m sure I don’t understand in order to become the sugar that we know and love.
Just like HFCS.
But there is one important way that HFCS is different from sugar cane sugar. It is made right here in the United States offering jobs to Americans and money to stimulate the American economy.
That’s a distinction I’d love to see a few more media focus on.
And if you’d like to download and print some facts to carry around in your pocket or share with your neighbors, click here.
I spent most of my time in the career fair representing Illinois Corn, but did sneak away for a few minutes to watch Tricia Braid Terry lead a session on social media. She did a wonderful job getting the kids motivated to get on the social media bandwagon!
It was great to meet with so many wonderful kids and see what the future of ag holds. I think it says a lot when over 400 high school students come together and have the maturity and respect these young people had. It is not only a testament to FFA and what a great program it is, but I think it is goes to show what great farming/agricultural families these kids come from.
You can see coverage on the Illinois Farm Bureau Youth Education facebook page.
After more than 6,000 studies have been presented to the EPA indicating its safety and after its approval (once again) by the EPA in 2006, atrazine is undergoing yet another EPA review.
I felt priviledged to attend a lecture by one of the scientists in the EPA’s back pocket on this issue, Tyrone Hayes of University of California Berkeley, last week as he presented his research on the Illinois State University campus. The lecture was attended by what seemed to be mostly professors on campus with quite a few college students thrown in. Together, we all learned why Hayes believes atrazine causes chemical castration, homosexuality, and hermaphroditism.
His claims seemed far fetched to this farm girl. But who am I to argue with science, right?
Except experts agree that this isn’t really science. In 2002, eight American, Canadian and South African researchers essentially discredited Hayes’ methology, concluding, “Like the laboratory work, the field studies suffer from major inadequacies.” And in 2005, the EPA’s own Deputy Director of Office of Pesticide Programs testified that “all of the available information was scientifically flawed. None of his laboratory studies on atrazine were conducted in accordance with standard protocols.”
Knowing this ahead of the lecture left me wondering while he spoke:
• Why is Illinois State University interested in one person’s laboratory work that no other scientist can reproduce?
• Farmers have been using atrazine for over 50 years. If castration and hermaphroditism are real, substantiated problems, wouldn’t we know that by now? Wouldn’t that work be verified by other scientists or a theme of rural dwellers having these issues be noticed over the past 50 years?
• Why isn’t Dr. Hayes conducting this research on some species that actually live in Illinois or even North America? To date, his research focuses only on African reed frogs which are not found in our area. Also, what about research on other animals? Some researchers have reported that frog hermaphroditism has been found around the world for decades – long before the introduction of atrazine.
And then, I have to wonder that if I can question these things during a fifty minute lecture based only on my limited science facilities, what else could be lacking when a qualified scientific researcher reviews the work?
Sadly, we’ll never know. As we’ve noticed a bit too much lately, EPA bureaucrats don’t care much for qualified scientific review.
Welcome to the Illinois Corn Farmers blog. We will be adding new posts soon, stay tuned!