Corn Commentary

Blunt Stands Firm

Missouri Governor Matt Blunt has denied a request by Kansas City for a waiver of the state’s ten percent ethanol renewable fuels standard.

“We have reviewed the request for a waiver of the E-10 standard in the Kansas City area,” Gov. Blunt said. “After thorough consideration of all aspects of this waiver request, I have decided it is in the best interest of the state to not issue the waiver.”

Missouri CornThat was good news for Missouri corn growers, who strongly support the state renewable fuels standard.

“With gasoline prices already soaring, removing ethanol in Kansas City would send prices even higher,” said Missouri Corn Growers Association president Mike Geske. “By denying the waiver, Gov. Blunt is preventing consumers from experiencing additional pain at the pump.”

Missouri currently has the lowest average gas price per gallon nationwide at $3.82 and part of the credit for that is being given to the ten percent mandate. Read this “Expainer” article by Slate.com.

More Popcorn Poppycock

Coincidentally coming at the kickoff of the big summer movie season, the theater industry has decided to raise prices for BOTH popcorn and tickets and blame it on ethanol.

Iowa PopcornIf you remember last year, the Iowa Corn Promotion Board popped the myth that ethanol caused higher popcorn prices by dramatically demonstrating just how much popcorn you can get for five bucks. Pictured is ICPB intern Paul Brees with 38.5 pounds of popcorn – the equivalent of about $1280 at the movie theater.

Missouri Corn Growers president Mike Geske was popping mad enough about the movie theaters’ claims that he wrote a letter to the Kansas City Star last week.

Dear Editor: It is ridiculous to blame the rising cost of a movie ticket on ethanol (5/23, A-1, “Corn costs adding pop to prices at the movies; Kansas City-based AMC will increase ticket and popcorn prices at its area locations”). In 2007, the farm price for popcorn was 13 cents per pound. Prior to popping, the average $5 tub contains 0.15 pounds, or about 2 cents’ worth of popcorn. Even if the price of popcorn would have doubled in the last year, there would be only about 4 cents’ worth of popcorn in the $5 tub at the theater. Additionally, the paper pulp used to produce popcorn tubs has jumped 40 percent in the past 36 months. This increase makes the popcorn less expensive than the tub it comes in. Lastly, popcorn and field corn, used primarily for livestock feed and ethanol, are not the same. It is irresponsible to paint ethanol as the scapegoat at the expense of farmers.

Time to get out the popcorn poppers and hold a few more media events to illustrate just how ludicrous it is to blame ethanol for increasing the cost of something they make such a huge profit on already.

Top Ten Reasons Not to Use Ethanol

Top tenMark Lambert with the Illinois Corn Growers must be auditioning to be a writer for David Letterman – he came up with the following “Top Ten Reasons I Don’t Use Ethanol.”

10. Saudi Arabian riyals are much prettier than American dollars

9. Baby seals look good in a fresh coat of crude oil

8. Terrorists over seas will hate us even more when we stop sending them our money

7. The best sunsets are viewed from behind a curtain of smog

6. The oil execs won’t be able to afford their private islands on anything less than 8 digit salaries

5. I’m cold, bring on the global warming

4. I want my children to develop long lasting neurological problems from carbon monoxide emissions.

3. Alaskan beauty is overrated, bring on the drilling

2. Who needs ozone anyway, I need to get tan for summer vacation

1. I love the smell of carcinogens in the morning

Indiana Corn Goes Mobile

Indiana Corn Marketing Council Mobile Marketing UnitIn conjunction with pre-Indy 500 events this week, the Indiana Corn Marketing Council debuted its new interactive mobile marketing unit complete with videos detailing the production of ethanol and a database of local fuel retailers that offer E10 and E85 fuel blends.

Domestic Fuel’s Laura McNamara talked with Indiana Corn’s Mark Walters and ICMC president Mike Shuter, a Frankton, IN farmer about the new unit and how IN corn fits into the ethanol industry.

Listen to that interview here:

Indiana Corn and Ethanol Education

Hoosier ethanol interviewThe Indiana Corn Marketing Council has been gearing up for Sunday’s Indy 500 with various ethanol promotions, including special discount fuel events at local fuel stations and a drawing to win a pace car Corvette. “But the real focus of this campaign is to educate the consumer about ethanol,” according to Mark Walters with the council. “What we are finding is that many consumers in Indiana are still on the fence about ethanol. They think its a good thing but they don’t know all the facts.”

Hoosier Ag TodayIndiana’s Hoosier Ag Today (HAT) radio network decided to find out just what consumers do know about ethanol by interviewing motorists at a recent ethanol pump promotion. Farm broadcaster Gary Truitt says he found that there is definitely a need for ethanol education.

“Our consumer sampling seemed to support Walter’s assertion that most Hoosier motorists still have an open mind about ethanol,” said Truitt.

Among the comments Truitt heard is that ethanol is a good idea and that anything that helps reduce our energy consumption is wonderful.

Listen to Truitt’s report here or read more on the HAT website.

Food vs Fuel a “Global Myth”

An op-ed in the Chicago Tribune this week that calls the food versus fuel fight “a global myth.”

“It seems so obvious: With so much corn being turned into fuel, food shortages must inevitably result, and biofuel programs must be the cause. However, that’s completely untrue.”

The increased demand for food from the hundreds of millions of people in China and India rising out of poverty and moving to a more calorie-rich diet affects the price of food the most. Second is the price of fuel.

Set America FreeThe editorial is written by “Energy Victory” author Robert Zubrin and Gal Luft, executive director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, both members of the Set America Free Coalition which is concerned about the national security and economic implications of America’s growing dependence on foreign oil.

They rightly note that the real culprit in high food prices is the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. “This year, with OPEC-rigged oil prices exceeding $100 a barrel, the U.S. will pay $800 billion for its oil supply, and the world as a whole will pay $3.2 trillion. These figures are both up a factor of 10 from what they were in 1999 and represent a huge regressive tax on the world economy.”

So, rather than shut down biofuel programs, we need to radically augment them, to the point where we can take down the oil cartel. Congress can make this happen by passing a law requiring that all new cars sold in the U.S. be flex-fuel vehicles that can run on any combination of gasoline, ethanol or methanol. The technology costs only about $100 per vehicle.

They conclude, “That, and not blindly accepting the naysayers’ propaganda demanding the preservation of the oil monopoly, should be our course.”

Thanks to Mark Lambert with the Illinois Corn Growers for sending us the story.

Illinois Farmers on Food Prices

Something fun and informative on the Internet:

Why are food prices on the increase?  Illinois Farm Bureau has created a new website to provide consumers with the proper answers.   Farmingforyou.org discusses and explains the five major reasons food prices are on the rise.

The bureau also offers a blog on ethanol here.

South Dakota Launches Blender Pump Program

SD Corn Utilization CouncilOn Thursday, the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council (SDCUC) and the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC) launched a blender pump program aimed at helping gas station retailers in the state obtain funding and the equipment needed to sell blends of ethanol ranging from 20 to 40 percent to be used in flex fuel vehicles.

EPIC Fueling LogoEPIC Director of Operations Robert White said South Dakota is the perfect place to launch this new program. “South Dakota is where the blender pump movement started and we are happy to partner with the corn producers there to get this initiative off the ground,” said White.

SDCUC Executive Director Lisa Richardson says South Dakota’s ethanol industry is uniquely positioned to increase the use of higher ethanol blends to meet the Renewable Fuels Standard.

“The two largest ethanol companies are here, people in South Dakota are highly educated about ethanol and our goal is simply that we need to figure out we can use more product and we need to give consumers the choice and the blender pump does just that,” Richardson said.

There are currently about 20 blender pumps in the state and the goal is to install a minimum of 100 new blender pumps over the next year.

Read more here.

Missouri Motorists Save With Ethanol

The Missouri Corn Merchandising Council held a press conference at the state capitol on Monday to announce the results of a new study showing that Missouri motorists are saving money at the pump thanks to ethanol.

Ethanol Car at Missouri CapitolThe “Impact of Ethanol on Retail Gasoline Prices in Missouri,” study, performed by John Urbanchuk, found that drivers in Missouri are expected to save an average of 9.8 cents per gallon due to the 10 percent ethanol standard that went into effect Jan. 1, 2008.

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), Missouri drivers used over 2.9 billion gallons of gasoline in 2007. With nearly a dime a gallon difference, using ethanol-blended fuels translates to statewide savings of more than $285 million dollars in 2008.

(Read more from MO Corn here)

Missouri Corn board member Terry Hilgedick says the study confirmed what they had already believed. “It pointed out that ethanol is a bargain for consumers, they are saving about 9.8 cents per gallon at the pump due to just the Missouri law.”

Hilgedick notes that the study does not factor in the increasing use of biofuels like ethanol that are helping to extend gasoline supplies and hold retail pump prices down. According to Merrill Lynch commodity strategist Francisco Blanch, U.S. gas prices would be 15 percent higher without the increasing effect of biofuels. Without ethanol, the price at the pump would be $3.70 a gallon instead of the recent average price of $3.25 a gallon.

Listen to an interview with Terry here:

Iowa Corn Sets Record Straight

Radio Iowa did a story today on corn and food prices allowing the Iowa Corn Promotion Board to tell the real story.

Iowa Corn Promotion BoardJulius Schaaf, chair of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) says those who say corn prices at “record” highs should get the facts straight.

Schaaf says when you look at the price of corn in past years, there were times when corn got over three-dollars a bushel – and when plotted against the rate of inflation — that equates to over seven dollars a bushel. “So in real dollars, you can’t say that we’re setting record prices,” Schaaf says, “one thing you can say is that we’re setting record prices with oil, when you plot that (oil prices) against the inflation rate, we are setting records.” He says for example: in mid-1984, corn at the farm gate sold for $3.05 a bushel in Iowa, but it would take $6.27 in today’s dollars to equal that.

Schaaf also notes that transportation and packaging are really driving up the cost of the food.

Congrats to Iowa Corn and Radio Iowa for telling “the rest of the story.”



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