Monday, July 30, 2007

Tyson Foods Living High on the Hog

This year, Tyson Foods launched a very public "food vs. fuel" campaign against corn and ethanol production.

"There is definitely going to be a public debate, in my mind, over corn for food versus corn for fuel," said Richard Bond, chief executive of meat processor Tyson Foods Inc (Reuters)

Among this doom and gloom attitude was that there wouldn't be enough corn to feed a hungry world and that businesses would suffer.

Suffer indeed! From RTT News:

The Springdale, Arkansas-based Tyson Foods reported a net profit of $111 million or $0.31 per diluted share, compared to a net loss of $52 million or $0.15 per diluted share for the same period last year.

Source: RTT News, Reuters

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Renewable Fuels: From Farm To Fuel Pump

An interesting an informative video on corn and soybean production and increasing yields to meet the increasing demand for food, feed, fiber and fuel.

View the video on YouTube: Click HERE.

Source: Monsanto Corp

Friday, July 27, 2007

Blogs of Note

We're going to take a week off for some R&R here at Food and Fuel In the past 90 days, we've covered a wide variety of topics on the food and fuel discussion. from milk, and dairy products, tequila and beer to new FFV vehicles. While we're away, be sure to check out these blogs of note:

Also, check out the content here on Food and Fuel that you may have missed. Some areas worth looking at:

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Big Oil's War on Ethanol

CFA Consumer Federation America Food vs FuelThe Consumer Federation of America, a consumer watchdog group, says big oil companies are trying to stop the growth of the ethanol industry… and Big Oil is using its monopolistic power to prevent competition in the fuels industry.

In a report entitled “Big Oil vs. Ethanol: The Consumer Stake in Expanding the Production of Liquid Fuels", CFA charges that:

"major oil companies have now declared war on a key policy that can help alleviate the shortage – the expanded production of alternative transportation fuels, particularly biofuels, like ethanol."
The report goes on to say that the oil companies have systematically used their power to prevent ethanol from becoming successful:

Keeping the refining sector tight is not the only way Big Oil battles against ethanol. The oil companies have substantial market power over the distribution of alternative fuels, as a Wall Street Journal headline pointed out: “Fill Up With Ethanol? One Big Obstacle is Big Oil.”

Yet so far, only a tiny fraction of U.S. service stations let a driver fill up with ethanol. There are a number of reasons, but one big one is resistance from oil companies…

Oil companies lose sales every time a driver chooses E85, and they employ a variety of tactics that keep the fuel out of stations that bear the company name. For instance, franchises sometimes are required to purchase all the fuel they sell from the oil company…

Contract sometimes limit advertising of E85 and restrict the use of credit cards to apply for it. Some require that any E85 pump be on a separate island, not under the main canopy.

The report concludes that supporting increased competition in the automobile fuels market will help discipline a market dominated by a handful of multinational oil companies that are extracting monopoly profits from US gasoline consumers.

Source: Consumer Federation of America


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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Clean My Ride

Matt Damon along with Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Sarah Silverman and Joshua Jackson are lending Hollywood-star power to a new campaign aimed at promoting service stations to sell corn-based ethanol for flexible-fuel cars.
"Come on, Congress," Matt Damon says in the video. "Come on, big oil. Mandate cleaner cars and cleaner fuel. Flex fuel. A little bit of corn and a pinch of can-do attitude is all it takes. And kids love it too. Yippee!
Visit their new website and take action at

Note: Adult content; Caution Advised.
View the VIDEO HERE.

Project Phin - Clean My Ride

Avis Goes Green

Avis Rent A Car System, LLC announced this week that they are expanding their 'Cool Car' collection to offer rental customers a choice of hybrid vehicles which now can be reserved by make and model.

These environment-friendly vehicles will be available at West Coast and Washington, D.C. locations. The service will be offered soon in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, New York and Philadelphia

The new addition of 500 Nissan Altima Hybrid vehicles gives customers a choice when renting a gas/electric hybrid vehicle, with the option of selecting either the Toyota Prius, a compact hybrid vehicle, or the Nissan Altima, a full-size hybrid vehicle for those desiring more room. All of these vehicles can use E10, a blend of gasoline and 10% ethanol.

Avis also offers flex fuel vehicles (FFV) for rent for those seeking to minimize environmental impact through the use of E-85 ethanol fuel. E-85 ethanol, a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline, is a mostly renewable fuel that can be made from corn, and which reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Source: Avis Rent A Car System, LLC


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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Popcorn Prices Popping But It's All Hot Air

The media still doesn't get it when it comes to food price issues. They lead with sensational claims to scare the public and boost ratings but when the math is done, it's all just hot air. ran a story this month proclaiming the increase in popcorn costs are due to the demand for ethanol.

Its leading thesis: "A trip to the local Cineplex may become even pricier soon thanks to surging popcorn costs."

The story bolsters its outlandish claim by interviewing Dennis Kunnemann, president of AK Acres Popcorn, who discusses the increase in costs his company has to pay for popcorn this year:
"This year, we've paid the highest price ever that I've contracted for, 13 cents a pound," compared with 9 cents per pound last year, Kunnemann added.
The article did not continue on to explain what this small increase might do to the final consumer cost. So based upon the raw numbers cited, one might rightfully assume that the $6.00 tub of movie popcorn is going to cost 4 cents more this year due to the increased price paid to farmers. That's less than 1 percent. And that also assumes that the full pound of popcorn is actually used in that tub.

So a family of four going to the movies, buying popcorn and four sodas, the total cost might be close to $50.00 (4 tickets @ $8, 4 sodas @ $3 each and the popcorn tub at $6). That 4 cents is now less than 1/10 of 1 percent cost impact of the total costs of going to the movies.

The article also failed to mention other cost drivers this year which have been shown to be increasing food costs, especially increased fuel, energy and labor costs.

It's a good bet that the increased cost of driving to the theater due to higher gasoline costs will cost a whole lot more than just 4 cents.

For this phony food article at, we give it TWO THUMBS DOWN!



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Monday, July 23, 2007

SAAB Perfection 9-3, And with Ethanol too!

Although our mission here at Food and Fuel is not to sell autos, it's hard not to pass along some really cool vehicles now and then that are FFV - Flexible Fuel Vehicles. FFVs can run on BOTH regular gasoline fuel, including E10, 10% ethanol, as well as E85, a blend of 85% ethanol. And best of all, they are flexible and can run on any blend with 0 to 85% ethanol.

In this recent review by the Pioneer Press Auto editor on the new 2008 SAAB 9-3, the reviewer wrote many glowing features for the car. But we found the following comments interesting, and just a bit entertaining. Seems that the auto reviewers are just waking up to the power and potential of ethanol and flexible fuel vehicles!
"The 2.0T BioPower is a flex-fuel engine that accepts E85 fuel. The 2.0-liter inline-four cylinder turbocharged 16-valve engine produces 175 horsepower on regular gas and accelerates from 0-60 mph in 8.5 seconds. Somehow the Saab engineers managed to get 14 percent more power using ethanol (E85 fuel), 200 horsepower and almost an entire second faster in 0-60 mph acceleration (7.9 seconds). Now there's an incentive to use ethanol!"
Source: Chicago Sun Times (Pioneer Press Auto).

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

NBC 6 News: Dairy Prices Increase Due to Supply Issues

A reporter for KCEN-TV, an NBC-affiliated station in Texas, emailed us recently to tell us that we've gotten the food price issue right. She also pointed us to this report on the station's website,, that also reported the supply issue is forcing higher milk prices. Check out both the web report, Dairy prices increase due to supply issues and Watch the Video.

The Key Points of the segment include:
  • While some believe that's [the demand for ethanol] part of the reason for the dairy price hike, McLennan County Dairy Farmer Steve Denton said it's more of a supply issue.
  • "We’re not able to keep up with the supply that the national needs as well as the export market," Denton said.
The report also correctly relates that drought in other countries such as Australia is causing increased demand for American milk products.


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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Oregon Governor Signs Alternative Fuels Law

According to various media reports, Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski signed legislation aimed at increasing the production and use of alternative fuels in the state.

The new law, previously known as HB 2210, also requires E10 gasoline, a mixture of gasoline and 10% ethanol, after production of ethanol reaches 40 million gallons per year within the state.

The law also includes a requirement that at least a 2-percent biodiesel blend be offered as soon as production of biodiesel in the Pacific Northwest reaches 5 million gallons per year and 5-percent biodiesel when production reaches 15 million gallons per year.

These standards for fuel are needed to improve the environment and reduce the nation’s dependence on imported fuel from hostile countries.

Source: Register-Guard

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Give Ethanol a Chance: The Case for Corn Based Fuel

Recently David Morris, co-founder and vice-president of the Institute for Local Self Reliance wrote an essay entitled, "Give Ethanol a Chance: The Case for Corn Based Fuel". He placed the article on, a well known, rather liberal news and policy discussion site.

In it, he asks "How did the use of ethanol end up alongside tyranny and torture as an evil to be conquered?". He noted how this clean burning renewable fuel has become the target of environmentalists, even though it solves many of the problems that have been identified as a problem. He then lays out the many reasons why ethanol should be embraced as a step towards a better future for our nation's energy independence. Among his key points of discussion:
I hope in the future we might engage in a more productive conversation and balanced discussion about the role of plants in a future industrial economy. To that end, I offer six propositions. I look forward to a debate on all or any one of these.
  • Sustainability requires molecules. Wind and sunlight are excellent energy sources, but they cannot provide the molecular building blocks that make physical products.
  • Wind and sunlight can only be harnessed for some form of energy (thermal, mechanical, electrical). Plants, on the other hand, can be used for many purposes: human nutrition, animal feed, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, clothing, building materials, fuels.
  • Corn is a transitional energy feedstock, but it has played a crucial role in creating the infrastructure for a carbohydrate economy.
  • Electricity, not biofuels, will be the primary energy source for an oil-free and sustainable transportation system. But biofuels can play an important role in this future as energy sources for backup engines that can significantly reduce battery costs and extend driving range.
  • Approach biofuels as an agricultural issue with energy security implications, not as an energy security issue with agricultural implications.
  • Support performance, not prescriptive standards.
He probably never imagined how negative the debate would be from an audience he thought would be supportive. It seems that a balanced discussion on renewable fuels is a tough act to pull off. No "green" is "green" enough. Every other form of energy always is better. They have no downsides. And everything else costs less and is the perfect fuel. The rest of the pundits seem to be of the mind that there are just too many people on this planet and we should roll back the clock and return to the good old days of ox and plow (while inconveniently forgetting about pest, disease, and mass starvation).

Seems that leadership is needed here. And it looks like our elected leaders are constructively helping to set the future with a sensible plan for renewable fuels, despite the noise from the left and the right.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Farmer's Perspective on Ethanol

Dr.Jeff Zeiger from the Alternative Fuels Institute, interviews a farmer for his perspective on ethanol.

Over the past two years, critics of renewable fuels have perpetrated misleading information about ethanol while conveniently avoiding the reality of America's dependence upon oil from hostile countries. The unintended consequence of these mis-truths is that this will erode the consumer's belief in the ability of American agriculture to feed the country and the world with a safe, affordable, environmentally-friendly food supply. The reality is that American farmers have stepped up and are meeting the increased demand for both food and fuel.

If you have trouble viewing the above video, click HERE to go to the site directly.

Check out other Food and Fuel videos HERE.

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Source: Alternative Fuels Institute

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

High Milk Prices, Part 2

dairy cow food vs fuel americaYou may recall a recent article we did on the subject of higher milk prices which showed how they were caused by several key non-corn factors like increased foreign demand and energy costs.

Major media reporters did not take the time to accurately report the issue correctly. In their rush to get a sensational headline, they got it wrong. In our first example, only the Sacramento Bee had done its homework.

The unintended consequence of this poor reporting is an erosion in the public's confidence that America can produce a safe and reliable food crop. And a potential loss by our farm community that our nation values the risks and hard work farmers give every day to produce it. Our nation's media have a responsibility to get the story right and stop this misrepresentation of corn and ethanol's impact upon higher food prices.

It's refreshing to discover that the St. Petersburg Times got the story right. The tide might be turning.

In their article this week, the reporting starts off with the familiar basic issue:
Ethanol wants corn and so do cows. So corn gets more expensive. And feeding corn to dairy cows gets more expensive. So your gallon of milk gets more expensive. Sounds logical. It's been on television, and in newspapers.

But it's just not true. Dairy experts, government economists, and market analysts agree.
The article then goes on to also correctly report:
"The media has tied the rising price of corn to the rising price of milk" "Yes, corn is being diverted for ethanol. Yes, that is driving up corn prices. And yes, that means your local dairyman is paying more to feed his cows. But that isn't driving the price at your dairy case,
So what is driving up the price?

Roger Hoskin, an agricultural economist with for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, offered this primary reason:
"Americans buy oil. A lot of oil, from places like the Middle East and Russia. They also buy clothes, toys and electronics from China, Thailand and Vietnam."

"The people we buy oil from - and iPods and poison pet food and everything else - are coming back and spending money in our country," Hoskin explained. "They come back and they want to buy the same stuff you buy and they outbid you for it."

"Their competition for those items drives up the cost."
The increase use of corn has been blamed for a host of food price increases. But the facts show otherwise.


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Source: St. Petersburg Times

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

E85 Motorcycle Roars Into Iowa

E85 Motorcycle Chopper Corn Ethanol Food vs FuelUPDATE Sept 20, 2007: Iowa Farmer Wins E85 Chopper
UPDATE October 11, 2007: OCC Ethanol Chopper Episode Airs

America’s first renewable energy chopper which runs on clean burning E85 fuel was unveiled recently by the Iowa Farm Bureau. The custom motorcycle was designed and built by the world famous Orange County Choppers.

Some of the features of the bike include:

  • Corn Head "Scoop"
    Orange County Choppers designed the corn-head to represent the part of the machine used to harvest the corn crop: the combine.
  • E-85 Logo
    Flex-fuel vehicle use the "Made in USA" 85% ethanol fuel blend that is made in Iowa.
  • E85 Gas Cap
    E85 or 85% ethanol ethanol blended gas burns cleaner, which reduces green house gases, and is grown in Iowa and across America and helps increase our energy independence.
  • Livestock Seat
    Livestock like cattle, poultry and hogs eat what's left over from making ethanol: Dried Distillers Grains.

The custom-built bike is currently on a tour of Iowa this summer. The bike will be raffled off by the Iowa Farm Bureau with the proceeds going to the American Lung Associations Clean Air Choice program.

Source: Photo courtesy of

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Why Beer Prices Are Higher, A Tale of Two Beer Stories

Beer Mug Food vs Fuel food versus fuelFirst it was beef. Then pork. Then dairy. And tortillas and tequila. Higher food prices must mean corn ethanol is to blame. Well that seems to be the message that the major media and critics of America breaking its dependence upon foreign oil would have you believe. We're waiting for how even "the kitchen sink" price can somehow be blamed on renewable fuels like ethanol.

Now it is beer that will cost you more. All because corn prices have increased. Even if corn isn't even in the beer!

But the true facts show that this incremental cost increase has minimal impact upon food prices. The small amount of corn in most foods means the final cost to consumers is usually just pennies--or even a fraction of a penny per serving, per gallon or per pound of final retail prices. And these costs are usually just an incredibly small percentage of the total food price.

Let's examine two recent media articles on the subject of higher food prices. The first comes from the USAToday/Arizona Republic whose headline screams "That July Fourth Beer will Cost You More". It then goes on to sensationally proclaim:
"Americans hosting Fourth of July barbecues will pay more cold cash for the cold ones this year as beer joins the list of foods and beverages that are seeing their prices jump, in part, because of the booming ethanol market."
It makes this claim because barley, an ingredient in beer, has increased in price because less has been grown this year due to growers planting more corn. The article then goes on later to more accurately explain the true costs of price increases:
"But a variety of other costs are increasing for brewers, including for other grains, glass, cardboard, energy, transportation, insurance and labor."
The reporter added some statistics and showed that barley prices have increased 17% this year. But the inconvenient truth forgotten was, how much does this increase really impact that $5 six pack of beer? The article came up empty with nothing. The true answer is just pennies.

The second article comes from the Denver Post's editorial board. Their opinion piece titled, "Switch to ethanol driving up the price of beer? D'oh!" offers the beer cost fact checking missing from all of the other media reports.

The article reports that Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture John Stump explains the price of agricultural raw materials is just a small fraction of the price of most processed foods. In his more accurate example he shows the real impact of barley price increases:
"the price of barley is now about $4 for a 46-pound bushel. It typically takes about a pound of barley to produce a gallon of beer. Thus, even with today's higher grain prices, the barley in a gallon of beer costs about 9 cents - or roughly a dime for a six-pack of beer that sells for anywhere from $3 to $5 in a package store and far more if the barley is brewed into the kind of "craft beer" featured in Denver brewpubs."
So the TOTAL cost of barley, even with an increase, is just 9 cents out of a $5.00 six pack. For those of you without a calculator, that's less than 2%. OK, let's be precise, 1.8%.

The article then goes on and accurately explains the other cost drivers impacting beer prices:
"state and federal taxes total 66 cents on a gallon of beer produced with just 8 cents' worth of barley." "the cost of labor, energy, transportation, packaging, advertising, taxes, profit and other items far outweigh the cost of the agricultural products in most of the food we eat."
Finally, the article notes that Jay Lehr, science director at the Heartland Institute, says that simplistic claims that the push for more ethanol is forcing food prices upward ignore the reality that much dry distilled grain remains as animal feed once the starch is removed from corn for fermentation.
"A bushel of corn will produce 2.7 gallons of ethanol with 17 pounds of feed left over - enough to create four beef steaks or eight quarts of milk," Lehr reports."

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Florida Champions Renewable Fuels Like Ethanol

According to various media reports, Florida Governor Charlie Crist signed a set of environmental protection orders this past Friday that champion a more environmentally friendly way of life for the future in Florida.

One of the most important and useful of the new Florida orders signed will require state vehicles to be ''fuel efficient'' and use renewable fuels like ethanol and biodiesel.

The Florida governor remarked about the push to cut greenhouse gases, ''State government is leading by example. It is the right thing to do.''

Joining the governor for the signing was California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger whose own recent support for clean burning renewable fuels has made him a champion of environmentalism in California. The actor-turned governor has recently embraced ethanol in his own state (read more HERE).

As clean burning renewable fuels like ethanol become available, perhaps our nation's dependence upon dwindling pollution-causing fossil fuels might be "Hasta La Vista, Baby".

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Distillers Grains Key to Texas Livestock

One message that is often overlooked by major media when they report "Food vs. Fuel" stories is that corn based ethanol (CBE) is both food AND fuel. How can that be? Well in the ethanol process, only the starch is removed. What's left, the nutritious protein and fiber called Dried Distillers Grains (DDG), is an important co-product that can continue to feed the livestock industry in the US and even the world.

According to a recent report by Texas A&M University, "There's no reason the cattle-feeding industry in Texas cannot remain strong and viable if it incorporates distiller's grains into rations".

Dr. Jim MacDonald, Experiment Station beef cattle nutritionist, also states "So we'd better figure out how to feed distiller's grains".

The good news that is that two ethanol plants are opening soon in the Texas Panhandle, providing a steady supply of distiller's grains and making the alternative feedstock even more attractive.

"In the future, as long as it is priced relative to corn, I think there will be a necessity to use this new large pool of feed," MacDonald said.

He goes on to state, "The beef and dairy industries are in the best position of any of the livestock industry to use distiller's grains".

The report also noted that the growth of the ethanol industry in the Corn Belt has created a greater demand for corn in that area and now they now have a large surplus distiller's grains. That could make them cheaper to rail into Texas than whole corn.


Source: Texas A&M

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Friday, July 13, 2007

High Efficiency Ethanol Plant Opens

A pollution saving ethanol plant opened last month in Mead Nebraska that is setting a new standard for the industry.

Environmentally friendly because of its cutting-edge technology, the high-efficiency ethanol distillation system at the Genesis Plant gets its energy from biogas derived from cattle manure and cellulosic biomass. The plant is built next to a feedlot with 28,000 beef cattle.

The new plant uses a patented closed-loop system that uses virtually no fossil fuel, the leftover grain is fed wet to the cattle at the nearby feedlot, whose manure in turn powers the plant and creates high-quality fertilizer as a byproduct.

According to the company, the plant "offers a powerful method for waste management that protects the environment from the potential of manure runoff–a significant challenge for livestock farmers–and avoiding the emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. "

According to company CEO Dennis Langley, "The E3 BioFuels system lets America get its automotive fuel from the croplands of the Midwest instead of the oilfields of the Mideast. By successfully demonstrating this technology, the Genesis Plant has made a major contribution to U.S. energy independence and farm waste management, and offers a solution to global warming, as well."

Source: E3 Biofuels


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Thursday, July 12, 2007

OPEC Worried About Renewable Fuels

It really shouldn't come as much of a surprise to learn that OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries whose oil cartel ensures that crude oil prices stay high in world markets, advocates that other countries not invest in domestic renewable fuels.

Well, how surprising anyway. They can't stand the idea that other countries might want--and need to free themselves from their economic stranglehold.

Trotting out the same old tired messages of doom and gloom, OPEC, whose member countries include such notables as Iran, Venezuela, Libya, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, warns about the many "dangers" of biofuels in its May/June 2007 report.

OPEC is in a really sticky situation. Its biggest customers, America and Europe, are racing to invest in a range of alternative energy programs, including biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel. Increasing cartel supplies will lower world oil prices but also reduce oil revenues back at home. This is not a good option when these countries need to keep their subjugated populations under control. But maintaining higher and higher crude oil prices and keeping the oil money pouring in only accelerates the use of alternative fuels like ethanol and break-thru transportation technologies like hybrid vehicles.

OPEC projects that there will be a drop in demand for OPEC oil by 2010 as non-OPEC countries pump more crude oil and energy alternatives such as biofuels play a bigger part in the energy supply.

We can only hope.


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Source: OPEC

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Ford Unveils Ethanol Powered Hybrid Fleet

Ford E85 Hybrid Food vs Fuel Eethanol EnergyAfter months of rigorous testing, Ford Motor Company's demonstration fleet of ethanol-fueled hybrids is ready to conquer the streets. Recently, Ford delivered E85 Escape Hybrids to the Department of Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and the Governors’ Ethanol Coalition (GEC) for testing.

According to a release by Ford:
A total of 20 Ford E85 Escape Hybrids will be delivered to select fleet customers in six states, staking Ford's claim to another important industry first. These are the world's first hybrid vehicles capable of operating on blends of fuel containing as much as 85 percent ethanol. Ethanol is a renewable fuel that can be produced from American-grown corn or sugar beets.
American consumers have shown great interest in recent Hybrid cars which run on both fuel and electrical energy. Ford's hybrid is that much better---a Flexible Fuel Vehicle that can take both regular gasoline (with or without E10) AND/or also use E85, a blend of 85% ethanol and just 15% regular gasoline. This is truly a remarkable combination of technologies.
"As a leader in both hybrid vehicles and in vehicles capable of operating on ethanol-based fuels, Ford is the ideal company to bring both technologies together for the first time," said Sue Cischke, Ford's senior vice president, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering.

Ford Hybrid Food vs Fuel Ethanol Energy

For more information on finding alternative fuel locations, check out our popular page HERE.

Source: Ford
Photos from the manufacturer

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

American Farm Bureau: "Food versus Fuel" Issue is Rhetoric not Reality

Food vs Fuel Food versus Fuel Facts Not Fiction Corn EthanolUPDATE. When it rains, it pours. At least when it comes to the news about food versus fuel. Yesterday, the American Farm Bureau Federation released a comprehensive economic report on the "fuel versus fuel" debate. What it says may surprise readers who have only seen recent headlines about renewable fuels and "high food prices".

In its report, the organization found that the recent in food prices has little to do with corn demand for ethanol. Instead, the report shows that weather and high energy costs are to blame.
"AFBF said that nearly all the evidence points to factors other than ethanol demand, including an early freeze that zapped fruits and vegetables, low world supplies of wheat, milk producerscutting back on production in response to last year’s low prices and the rising cost of energy."
The report also indicated:
“There is little evidence that any food category has been affected by higher corn prices in any significant manner,” said AFBF economist Terry Francl."
The report correctly indicated that corn is usually "just a tiny fraction" of a product's price.

Finally, the report by FB economist Terry Francl noted that “Ethanol is unfairly getting a bad rap because people aren’t looking at all the other factors that are involved in food prices."

As this report and other industry experts have also noted, the recent record corn crop planting for this year should further ease any remaining concerns about higher ethanol production.

Read the AFBF report, Fuels Versus Food: Is it Rhetoric or Reality? (PDF) HERE.

Read more from AFBF online HERE.

Source: American Farm Bureau


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Monday, July 9, 2007

NeFB: Corn Not the Cause of Food Price Increase

In a news release issued Friday June 6, 2007 by the Nebraska Farm Bureau, its president lays out his views on the food and fuel discussion. A few key points are clipped here but you can read the entire essay on the NeFB site.
July 06, 2007
Keith Olsen Commentary: Corn Not the Cause of Food Price Increase
By Keith Olsen, President, Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation
  • "It is becoming more popular all the time to pin food price increases on higher corn prices."
  • "media reports often quote misleading numbers indicating that corn prices are in the neighborhood of $4 a bushel. In reality, corn prices are only around $3.15 at local elevators, and they are expected to be around that level for the 2007 crop."
  • "If reporters would take time to dig into the numbers and the facts, they would find that other factors are the real cause of higher food prices." "Food prices in general do not rise as much as the media portray."
  • "The “rest of the story” that is not being told is that energy prices are a far larger culprit in higher food prices. "
  • "The bottom line is that the corn-food price link is grossly overstated."
  • "nearly all the evidence points to other factors. The reality is that higher corn prices have had very little impact on food prices."
Nebraska is not the only Farm Bureau to discuss food costs. Check out the Wisconsin Farm Bureau message.

Source: Nebraska Farm Bureau

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Sunday, July 8, 2007

Swedish Smugglers Do Their Part for Alternative Fuels

Mark this in the "unusual" category or "crime doesn't pay". Well at least not for the criminals.

In this story from, smugglers in Sweden are accidentally helping to fuel the country's public transportation system and at the same time helping to improve the environment with clean-burning renewable fuels.
"Almost all of the 185,000 gallons of smuggled alcohol seized by the customs service last year was turned into alternative fuel and used to power buses, trucks and a biogas train, officials said Friday."
According to the article, the confiscated alcohol is taken to a plant where it is heated and turned into a biogas that can help the country's efforts to reduce its dependency on fossil fuels.

Interestingly, about 25 percent of all energy consumed in Sweden comes from renewable sources, compared to about 6 percent average for the European Union In Stockholm, the nation's largest city and also its capital, one-quarter of city buses run on ethanol or biogas.


Saturday, July 7, 2007

WSJ Poll: Americans Support Alternative Fuels

Poll Survey Vote Food vs Fuel Ethanol EnergyThe high price of transportation fuels is taking its toll at the gas pump and wallets of Americans at the grocery store. As we've pointed out here on, energy costs have been shown to be the reason why some food prices have increased recently.

In an encouraging sign, Americans have come to understand that our nation has to break its addiction to oil, especially oil from unreliable foreign sources by encouraging the development and use of clean-burning, renewable alternative fuels like ethanol.

In a recent Wall Street Journal/Harris Interactive poll, a majority of Americans support alternative fuels:
"A majority of Americans believe it is important to reduce the energy consumption from automobile use. 79% of the respondents said encouraging the development and use of alternative fuels is important."
The survey also reported that most Americans say they are cutting back on nonessential driving in order to reduce energy consumption:
"Nearly 60% of respondents said they have minimized non-critical travel and 32% have put a hold on leisure road-trip travel, The Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive poll found. Forty percent said they have adjusted their spending habits as a result of high fuel costs."


Food and Fuel

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Food and Fuel Costs: Straight Talk from the Farm

An Illinois farmer, John Kuhfuss, speaks directly about the food and fuel debate.

Check out other Food and Fuel videos HERE.

If you have trouble viewing the above video, click HERE.

Source: Illinois Corn Growers Association

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Friday, July 6, 2007

Iowa Cattle Producers Favor Increased Ethanol

The Iowa EthanolRFA noted in their weekly newsletter that not all agriculture groups agree on the causes of rising food prices (you'll recall that we've pointed out from many reliable sources that energy costs are the main culprit). The following response from the President of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association to the Editors of the Des Moines Register appeared in the IowaRFA site:
I read with interest the article “New Energy Plan’s Surprising Impact on Producers”…. And found several issues I’d like to address.

The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association policy is opposed to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association stance on ethanol. Iowa cattle producers favor increased ethanol production and support the blender’s credit. Although this has created higher corn prices, we are able to utilize the co-products thus giving those of us in the Midwest a huge advantage over the southwestern cattle feeders. This in turn will help bring cattle feeding and its economic benefits back to Iowa.

When the Register listed the food items which will increase in cost because of higher corn prices, the article failed to address that actually only fractions of that cost are from the raw material (corn). In reality much of the additional cost of consumer goods today, not only food, comes in the form of higher production and transportation costs because of high fuel prices.

If fuel prices were to drop, the net result would far out weigh the minimal affect of $4.00 corn!

Kevin Carstensen
Iowa Cattlemen’s Association

Source: Iowa EnthanolRFA (PDF file)

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Gold Rush Over for Mexican Tequila; Don't Blame Ethanol

Tequila ethanol Food vs Fuel Food versus Fuel Alcohol[UPDATE: The original ChicagoTimes article link is dead, but it remains live at the Seattle Times.]

Sensational headlines sell newspapers. And they make for great stories on 24-hour cable news shows. The old television maxim, "If it bleeds, it leads" holds true even more today. But a recent variation might be "If it's bad even at all, let's blame ethanol. Video at eleven."

Last month headlines screamed "Tequila Prices to Increase Due to Ethanol". So it's easy to think that alcohol is going to cost more due to Mexican farmers planting corn. If it's in the paper, then it must be true.

But here's a story you might not have read. It comes from the Chicago Tribune on June 27th, 2007. The article correctly relates that too many agave plants (from which tequila is made) were planted in 2000 and 2001. Mexican farmers then (including speculative doctors and lawyers) planted the agave plants in droves hoping to become rich due to the soaring demand for tequila. Unfortunately, too many farmers did this at the same time and now there is an oversupply as the plants are ready to be harvested. Many are facing financial ruin because alternative uses for agave have not been developed yet. So, Mexican farmers are responding to their market signals and planting corn as a cash crop.
The oversupply has caused prices to tumble to less than $4 per typical 90-pound plant, from a peak of $70. Agave farmers are going bankrupt, even burning their crops in despair. Some farmers have blockaded tequila distilleries, begging them to buy their plants before they rot away in the rugged fields of Jalisco state.

The debacle has seen agave farmers and tequila producers try to rein in the roller-coaster cycle of planting that is a response to wild swings in price. The Mexican government now requires agave farmers to register their planting, and the tequila industry is monitoring crops with satellite photography.
It was only a few years ago that American farmers were inaccurately (and unfairly) accused of "dumping" cheap corn in Mexico destroying Mexican farmers. And leading to mass starvation because there was no corn for tortillas. But then again, that was in a newspaper headline.

Source: Chicago Tribune

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Thursday, July 5, 2007

Lawn Mowers Run on Ethanol Too!

lawn mower e85 ethanol food vs fuel renewable energyUPDATE 6/11, B& G has an updated page on using ethanol up to 10%

Gasoline used MUST NOT contain more than 10 percent 


In addition, Toro states in their mower section :

Ethanol fuel:  Gasoline with up to 10% ethanol is acceptable to use per engine manufacturers guidelines. 

<-- Original post -->
Critics of renewable fuels go out of their way to promote misconceptions, mis truths and misleading information to make their wild claims. Even your hardest working summer lawn tool, the spiffy lawnmower, is not exempt from these claims.

But here's the truth: blended E10 ethanol works in your lawnmower.

The good folks over at engine-maker Briggs and Stratton have a support page on this subject.
"Briggs & Stratton recommends that no more than 10% Ethanol be used in our engines."
And here's more good news. That clean-burning renewable ethanol will help keep your air looking good too!
"Reformulated fuel is gasoline that contains additional Oxygen in the blend. The additional Oxygen makes the combustion of the fuel and air more complete. This reduces emissions of all internal combustion engines."
E10 is available now and is the preferred oxygenate to keep your engine burning cleaner and the air cleaner too. Look for it when you next fill-up your vehicle and your lawnmower.

Source: Briggs and Stratton

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