Corn Commentary

Producing Food and Fuel to Fight Poverty

This week’s summit on the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations seemed to focus precious little time on how agriculture can help end global poverty and hunger. In fact, it was sad to see that the whole summit seemed to focus more on problems than solutions.

However, a pre-summit private industry forum did offer some constructive suggestions, and one of them is biofuels production. The CEO of South Dakota-based POET, the world’s largest ethanol producer, was one of two presenters at a roundtable on energy and biofuels at the UN on Wednesday. Jeff Broin made a compelling argument for ethanol being “one of the greatest opportunities our world has seen in decades” mainly because of the great productivity possible in agriculture. Here’s just a portion of his comments – you can read the rest on the POET blog, on Rhapsody in Green.

With a billion acres of idled cropland across the globe — and the price of agricultural commodities above the cost of production for the first time in decades –there is an unbelievable opportunity for underdeveloped countries to simultaneously lift people out of poverty and solve their crippling addiction to energy imports.

How? Given all the advancement in agriculture, including new seeds, more durable crops, and smarter farming techniques, people today in places as far apart as Sioux Falls and South Africa can grow more sustainable crops than ever before. For example, in the 1940s, the average American farmer produced about 40 bushels of corn per acre; today it’s 140. The result is an agriculture industry that can meet the growing demand for food and biofuels — and help nations once left out of the agriculture industry take care of their food needs, raise people out of poverty, and develop a profitable, self-sustaining farming industry.

And the good news is that this development doesn’t have to come at the expense of the environment. The billion acres of idled crop land guarantees that new farm land need not come from rainforests or other sensitive areas. And thanks to the work of scientists, farming today relies much less on pesticides and much more on new seeds and smarter agricultural techniques.

Is anybody listening?

DOE Still Bullish on Ethanol

The U.S. Department of Energy’s renewable energy chief took on corn ethanol critics last week, arguing that without existing ethanol production, “the price of gasoline would have been a lot higher.”

Story here.

Texas Big on Ethanol

As a home to many livestock and oil interests and a governor who has little use for the renewable fuels standard, Texas is also a corn state and home to a burgeoning ethanol industry. So it was only fitting and proper (and good fun, no doubt!) for the Renewable Fuels Association to spotlight Hereford, Tex., in its new ad campaign promoting ethanol.

Interestingly, it was research out of Texas — A&M University’s own Agricultural and Food Policy Center — that has been used by RFA and other ethanol supporters to defend the RFS!

Sweet Surprise on TV

Cindy just posted a story about the new Corn Refiners Association, Sweet Surprise campaign. I thought you might enjoy seeing one of the tv ads as much as I did. Unfortunately, we have a consuming public that’s too quick to jump on an idea based purely on emotionalism without the facts. So, that’s why groups like the CRA have to invest in ways to get truthful information out.

Here’s one of the ads:

Find more videos like this on AdGabber

From AdGabber via AdRants.

Spreading the News About DDGs

In the ethanol discussion, the contributions of distillers grains are often overlooked. This high protein feedstock produced in the corn-based ethanol process is adding competitively priced feed into the supply chain for livestock producers.

“We use approximately 100 million bushels of corn for ethanol production in Missouri, yet one-third of that corn comes back into the food chain in the form of distillers grains,” said Jayne Glosemeyer, retiring chairwoman for the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council. “Distillers grains really are ethanol’s untold story.”

As a way to spread the word about distillers grains, the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council recently partnered with the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association and the University of Nebraska to develop an informational publication explaining the various types of distillers grains, storage techniques and ration incorporation.

The publication can be downloaded as a pdf here.

Sweet Surprise

The Corn Refiners Association rolled out a national campaign this month promoting high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

The campaign includes ads on cable TV and in woman’s magazines, as well as full-page newspaper ads will appear in several major newspapers across the country. In addition, there is a great interactive website called “Sweet Surprise” which contains factual information about sugar, honey and other sweeteners as well as HFCS.

Featured prominently on the site is a “Sweet Smarts” quiz – which I took and totally failed. But, I learned a lot too – and that is the goal.

“There are so many myths, inaccuracies and untruths associated with this sweetener that we felt it was necessary to set the record straight,” said CRA president Audrae Erickson. “We hope to provide balanced information about high fructose corn syrup to allow consumers to make informed decisions based on science.”

Here’s some quick facts that may be a sweet surprise to many:

The American Medical Association (AMA) recently concluded that “high fructose corn syrup does not appear to contribute to obesity more than other caloric sweeteners.”

High fructose corn syrup has the same number of calories as table sugar and is equal in sweetness. It contains no artificial or synthetic ingredients.

Research confirms that high fructose corn syrup is safe and no different from other common sweeteners like table sugar and honey. All three sweeteners are nutritionally the same and all qualify as “natural” ingredients according to FDA labeling rules.

The website also has links to the television and print ads.

Wisconsin Corn Celebrates New E85 Station

The Beaver Dam United Cooperative Cenex Convenience Store is giving away free gift cards this Saturday with qualified purchases of 85 percent ethanol fuel as part of a statewide celebration recognizing ethanol’s contribution to the state’s economy and improved air quality.

During the Beaver Dam event, the first 85 Flex Fuel Vehicle (FFV) owners who purchase 8.5 gallons or more of E85 between 10 a.m. and noon at local Cenex Store September 20 receive a $20 Cenex gift card courtesy of the Wisconsin Corn Growers Association. This is the latest in a series of events celebrating E85 and marking the 100th anniversary of the American Lung Association of the upper Midwest.

“E85 fuel is recognized as a Clean Air ChoiceTM by the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest, so it is very appropriate that we celebrate our organization’s anniversary – and 100 years of better breathing – at the same time the state is marking its 100th E85 fueling station,” says Dona Wininsky, Director of Public Policy and Communications for the Lung Association.

“With gasoline prices approaching $4 per gallon, American consumers must realize that ethanol and the country’s Renewable Fuels Standards are part of the solution for rising food and energy costs,” says Randy Woodruff, president of the Wisconsin Corn Growers Association. “Americans are saving billions of dollars at the pump thanks to biofuels and several recent studies have disproved big oils contention that corn prices are driving up food prices.”

Nothing Funny About This Ethanol Promoter

Mark ThomasIf you go by the Ohio Corn Growers Association exhibit at the Farm Science Review you’ll meet one of the most passionate promoters of ethanol I know. He’s 5 time IHRA Funny Car Champion Mark Thomas. Here he is explaining his car to an FFA student.

Mark is not only a professional drag racer but a farmer himself. He has 500 Holstein cows and farms 2,200 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat, and alfalfa. You’d think that would be enough to keep him busy!

One of his passions is ethanol. He basically grows his own fuel and has had a mission to help educate the public about this renewable energy source. So that’s part of his message here at the show. I asked him about how his farm business was going. He says that the past year or so has been pretty good but it’s basically making up for years that weren’t so good. However, he says that there’s a lot of uncertainty about the future and with the problems lately in financial markets there’s good reason to wonder.

He says the question he gets asked most often standing by his funny car is, “How much horse power?” It’s got 3,000 HP and goes from zero to 250 mph in 5.7 seconds! Of course he runs on ethanol and he says the car uses just over a gallon of ethanol per second.

You can listen to my interview with Mark here:

Ohio Corn Growers Helping Educate Farmers

Ohio Corn GrowersIt’s always good to see what the various state corn grower organizations are doing. Right now the Ohio Corn Growers Association have a nice building getting lots of activity on the grounds of the Farm Science Review. One of their board members has been involved with it for many years. He’s Ron Rockhold, pictured on the right. Ron says he farms in southern Fayette County and has been on the board for going on 20 years. He spends one day working in the exhibit and one day with his brother “taking in the sights.”

Ron says this show is a great thing for agriculture. He says the message they’re trying to get across to growers is what’s happening with legislation, especially the farm bill and the rfs standard. In fact, he says, “. . . talking about the RFS which is even more important than the farm bill because it increases the demand for corn and has raised the price of corn to where farmers are getting their money from the market now instead of from the government.” That’s something he says he’s always wanted to see.

You can listen to my interview with Ron here:

Corn Condition Great at Farm Science Review

Corn at Farm Science ReviewI thought you might enjoy this picture from the Farm Science Review taking place in London, OH. The Ohio Dept. of Agriculture has this displayed outside their building.

I just spoke with show manager, Chuck Gamble and he says this will be the first show where farmers are getting to see full harvest and tillage demonstrations. Many of them, like the Farm Progress Show, weren’t able to offer that this year due to weather and crop conditions.

Here in Ohio I’d say conditions are excellent and there is a huge line of farmers waiting to get out into the field to see the live demonstrations.

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