buckminsterfuller got brazil to think about ethanol decades ago.
a republican senatorial candidate challenging boxer or feinstein i can't remember, lost in small part as he was receiving massive subsidies by the federal government for his links to ethanol plants. why republicans need to be benefitting from subsidies is beyond me and is counterintuitive to their mantra.
high fructose corn syrup is easily one of thee most addictive substances known to man. it's density for sweetning is similar to the potency improvement of cocaine to crack, old marijuana to new marijuana and causes many more problems such as early diabetes, tooth decay, obesity, fatigue, etc. try and avoid it, you can't. it's worse than salt trying to wean one's self from it. still, i'm not nanny proponent, so the new york politicians, and california for that matter will probably outlaw it at some point. and for good measure, we saturate kids with it from halloween to easter with it. i guess we could be using those acres for something else, which i guess means we can populate the earth more, redistribute resources somewhere else besides dentistry, some health care issues etc. supply and demand are really interesting. nobody has faith in it. we "need" a balance with government, skewed in favor of government being the consistent arbiter, arbattoir for freedom. there is no such thing as the invisible hand anymore, it's the visible fist of the government, squashing all small business, as they are too numerous to draw into the fold. as long as most of the people either work for the government or big business, there will be a mandate to crush small business with regulation impossible to spread costs across invisible hand vaccuums.
There are other things that can be used for alternative energy rather than corn that we need to feed our animals. There's plently of other alternate energy sources.
It's good for the corn farmers, yes, but it is hurting the livestock industry (mainly pork) more than it's helping the corn farmers.
Since horses are not allowed to be slaughtered anymore there's already a huge rise in horse neglect cases because people are straving them to avoid buying feed for them (they've been having tons of horse abuse stories on the news lately). And hogs are brining .10 per lb when a bag of feed costs 5 dollars. A lot of people are getting out of the goat craze too. Heck, even cattle are selling for way less than what their worth. At our district fair steers sold way cheaper and these were bit enough for the butcher shop. My steer didn't even bring a dollar per lb and he wasn't the cheapest that sold. Most 400 lb auction calves aren't brining a dollar per lb either. 2 years ago we had a 450 lb calf sell for 1.64 at the auction and the others brought around 1.30. This year our top 450 lb calf sold for 1.00 and the others brought .95.
Feed costs and the drought are really hurting the livestock industry this year. The pig industry right now must really be hurting.
Maybe not quite the direction you're looking for, but it seems that wind generated electricity could go a long way toward helping. No, it doesn't get your tractor around the field, or your car down the road (well, not the vast majority of 'em - yet anyway), but it's 100% renewable, emissions free, and could eventually free up huge amounts of fossil fuel that are now being burned to generate electricity.
I know ethanol is corn farmers great hope right now, but I think it remains to be seen whether or not it will eventually cost more to agriculture and the economy in general than it can ever save. I know that for those of us raising hay and cattle in this part of the country, it has yet to look like a good thing. I guess it is partly, maybe mostly responsible for the drastically increased wheat prices of late, but again for the cattle business, that's just more increased input cost.
One thing about the ethenol deal is that the local plants do produce local jobs that help the dwindling small town communities here in western kansas.It is not the total answer for sure and it does affect the feedlot industry and the price of feeder calves. I think it is helping the smallcommunities though.
My understanding of ethanol is that it is not a net energy producer. Meaning that it takes as much energy to produce a gallon of ethanol as a gallon of ethanol produces (energy). Definately not the answer to $100.00 a barrel oil. The people in the know tell me that bio diesel is a much better way to go for the long haul.
Also the government is highly subsidising the ethanol plants. Our tax dollars at work. I'll let Knabe take this from here.
There’s a simple reason that ethanol is popular with politicians: money. Substituting corn ethanol for a large fraction of the gasoline we burn will mean sluicing gushers of cash from more populated states to politically powerful farm states. And a lot of that cash will wind up in the pockets of the big agribusinesses, like Archer Daniels Midland, that dominate ethanol processing—and whose fat checkbooks wield enormous influence in Washington.
In fact, governments generally have a bad track record when it comes to picking technologies. In the midst of an earlier oil crunch, President Jimmy Carter seized on “synfuels”—refined from oil shale deposits—as a panacea. Oops. Synfuels turned out to be woefully uneconomic, environmentally disastrous and feasible only with massive government subsidies. It took years to kill the program off—and the last of the multibillion-dollar tax credits just expired in 2007.