Corn Commentary

Another View of Food vs. Fuel

Illinois Corn GrowersA commentary from the Illinois Corn Growers earlier this week points to an interesting piece on Cattle Network titled, “Jolley: Five Minutes With Terry, Francl, American Farm Bureau Federation.”

Here’s how IL Corn starts it out:

The price of a bushel of corn and its effect on the price of just about everything else has created more nonsense on both sides of the argument than anything since Walt Disney was a pup. Is it a food vs. fuel proposition? Does converting corn to ethanol so we can feed the gas tanks of America steal food from starving Africans? Maybe shipping cheap corn to Chad actually prevents that nation from developing an Ag base that can grow its own food. (So begins a story and interview on “The Cattle Network” website today.

Check it out and see what you think!

Popcorn Poppycock

Iowa PopcornI know Chuck already did a post on the Iowa “Popcorn Propaganda” event, but here are my thoughts to add, along with another picture.

This is Iowa Corn Promotion Board intern Paul Brees with the fruits of his six hours of labor - 38.5 pounds of popcorn. The purpose of Paul’s popping project was to point out to the press and the public that pinning popcorn prices on ethanol production is pure poppycock.

The Iowa photo-op did generate some publicity. The Associated Press story headline reads, “Ethanol Makers Join Food vs. Fuel Debate.” The story was good, the facts were right, the ending comments from the Jolly Time popcorn people fell pretty flat, but the headline was all wrong. It makes it sound like all of the sudden the corn and ethanol industries woke up and decided to defend themselves. The media just hasn’t been listening.

Here is a link to the popcorn facts sheet from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association that provides some points for the media to ponder. Among them … that tub of popcorn at the movie theater contains .15 pounds, or 2.4 ounces, of popcorn kernels prior to popping. And that five dollars worth of popcorn from the farmer filling all those trash bags would translate to about $1280 at the movie theater.

By the way, in case you were wondering what happened to all that popcorn, Mindy Williamson with Iowa Corn says they donated it to local daycares and two homeless shelters. Not bad for a $5 investment!

Popcorn Propaganda Popped in Iowa

A state corn growers organization decided to use a picture to make a point on how out of control the food vs. fuel debate is getting. The The Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) and the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) got together for a joint press conference and photo-op to dispel claims that ethanol and higher field corn prices result in higher popcorn prices for moviegoers. The “Popping the Popcorn Propaganda” event clearly illustrated this point by displaying what $5 will buy you at a movie theater versus $5 from a farmer.

Here’s the details from their event:

“The ‘blame ethanol’ game has gotten completely out of control,” stated IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “From a consumer standpoint, for $5 you can buy 1 tub of popcorn at a movie theater or 38.5 pounds of popcorn from a farmer, which, when popped fills nearly a dozen 33-gallon trash bags.

IA Popcorn“From a farm standpoint, in 2006 the farmer received about 1.4 cents for the corn in that $5 tub at the movie theater. In 2007, that same farmer will receive about 2 cents to fill that tub. How can an increase of 0.6 cents to the farmer justify a price hike to movie goers or crazy headlines in the news media?”

To illustrate the point, IRFA intern Paul Brees spent 6 hours popping 38.5 pounds of popcorn – the amount you could buy from a farmer for $5. During the press conference, the 12 bags of popcorn stood in stark contrast to the one small bag of popcorn from the movie theater.

“We had a very visual example today of what actually goes to the farmer. You can use this same example when you talk about other products made with corn. For example, a six-pack of soda includes just 6 cents of corn sweetener, or only 1 penny per can. If your soda at the store is going up more than 1 cent per can, then you have to wonder where the rest of that increase is going,” said Craig Floss, CEO for Iowa Corn. “We know that it is not making it to our corn growers, so to blame them for the increase in prices at the grocery story is simply not right.”

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