Ethanol not the evil culprit made out to be (commentary)

Ethanol not the evil culprit made out to be (commentary)

IT is always enjoyable to respond to another rant by Dennis T. Avery about how ethanol has destroyed the world we live in.

He claims it has withered away our grasslands, tripled our food costs, accounted for higher fuel costs, ripped out fence lines, drained wet spots and fails to achieve any reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

In his world, there is only one culprit, and that is ethanol.

Avery seldom takes a look at the bigger picture of what oil really stands for.

Like oil has never had any effect on our wildlife, our nature preserves, our cost in military spending or $5 billion in subsidies and tax credits each and every year.

Like there has never been an oil spill or refinery fire or railcars loaded with oil burning half a city, or like lead has never caused any problem (oh yeah, they took that out and replaced it with a cleaner, safer product like ethanol) or had any toxic effect on our environment or pocketbooks. Like it never had any lasting effect in Suto Bay, Alaska, or in the Gulf of Mexico. That list can go on and on.

I'm sorry, but Avery has had many viewpoints in Feedstuffs that can be easily refuted, and sometimes his theories are downright insulting to not only agriculture and the biofuel industry but to common sense.

Remember, it was Avery who claimed that since we were growing more corn to make ethanol and farmers were leaving more corn in the fields where geese fed on it, it was geese feeding on that extra corn production left in the fields that brought down the U.S. Airways jet that crashed into the Hudson River years ago. Funny, I never heard pilot "Sully" make that claim or anyone else except Avery. If that was true, wouldn't we see jets dropping like flies throughout the midwestern states?

I have to say, Avery sticks to his word. Back in a previous issue of Feedstuffs, he claimed that corn-based ethanol would lead to "doubling or redoubling" food prices. Now, in the June 9 issue, he claims that it will mean "tripling" our food costs.

Well, maybe Avery should pay a visit to the supermarket in Lincoln, Neb., the state that is second in ethanol production. He might find some food prices in the Heartland rising, but he can't blame corn.

Given the fact that corn costs roughly $4.00/bu. compared to the high of nearly $8.00 a few years ago, they should be giving away Cornflakes. Meat prices are higher, but much of that is due to a major drought in cattle and grazing regions and really strong demand both here and abroad.

So, now Avery touts the benefits of "shale gas fracking for dramatically shifting global oil and gas production without subsidies and with a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions" and says "it highlights the basic foolishness of ethanol in a world that has no more prime farmland."

Wow, no concerns there, right?

Come on, give a little credit to American agriculture! We are producing more with less all the time — less water, less energy, fewer chemicals — and doing it on family farms that proudly aren't owned by oil companies.

Avery needs to spend a little more time out on the farm and more time looking at the world of energy with the blinders off.

*Don Hutchens is a lifelong farmer, environmentalist, supporter of wildlife and ethanol promoter. He is a former director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and presently serves as executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board.

Volume:86 Issue:27

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