Corn Commentary

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.”

Oil Companies Impact Food Prices

While the oil industry has been quick to blame corn ethanol and grain prices for high food costs, they fail to recognize the profits of their own companies are the bigger culprit of high food costs, according to the Nebraska Corn Board.

NE Corn“Farmers have been taking it on the chin while oil companies are raking in record profits,” said Don Hutchens, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board.

Exxon alone had profits of $40.7 billion last year, while the five leading oil companies had a combined profit of $123 billion. Ironically, the entire U.S. corn crop for 2006-07 had a gross value of $32 billion, and only 20% of that crop was used to produce ethanol.

“When you compare the profit of one oil company last year to the total gross value of an entire year’s U.S. corn crop, you can quickly understand why Congress is asking oil company executives to explain why their profits are hitting record levels while the American consumer pays for those profits at the pump and supermarket,” said Hutchens. “The oil companies are also fighting to keep $18 billion in tax breaks over the next decade.”

Hutchens said they were interested in hear what the oil companies had to say about renewable energy during a Congressional hearing held on Tuesday. “Our perspective is that they have not shown much support and have in fact tried to shift the blame of subsidies and high food costs to the American farmer,” Hutchens said. “In reality, the American farmer has worked hard for the last 30 years to show the benefits of a renewable energy source like ethanol.”

Iowa Corn Welcomes Helio

Celebrity dancing racer Helio Castroneves and former NASCAR champion Rusty Wallace visited with Iowa corn growers and members of the media on Wednesday to promote the Iowa Corn Indy 250 on June 22 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton.
Helio and Iowa Corn

There was no dancing, but Helio did sing the praises of ethanol. “It’s great,” he says. “The IndyCar Series is the one that started 100 percent on ethanol and other series are following as well. I’m very proud to be part of this organization. And ethanol is the main sponsor, we’re here because it’s where they produce ethanol.”

Helio in IowaHelio is a two-time Indy 500 winner, but he gained new celebrity as the current “Dancing with the Stars” champion, and he hopes that will also gain new fans for the IndyCar Series from the 22 million people who tuned in to that show. “The funny thing is now, before doing the show I was a driver that can dance, and now I am a dancer that can drive,” he joked.

Besides being former NASCAR champion, Wallace is also an ABC/ESPN commentator, and designer of Iowa Speedway. This will be the second year for the ethanol-fueled race at the new speedway. The premier Iowa Corn Indy 250 last year was the second-most watched IndyCar Series race after the Indianapolis 500. This is also the second year that the IndyCar Series will run on 100 percent fuel grade ethanol.



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