Saturday, September 29, 2007

Acting USDA Secretary Touts Corn and Ethanol Successes

Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner spoke yesterday to the Consumer Federation of America in Washington D.C. In his remarks, he touted the successes of corn growers and the remarkable achievements of the ethanol industry.

He also commented on several key issues regarding ethanol capacity growth, corn production, food cost issues that are worth reading.

Growth of the ethanol production capacity
The growth we are seeing this year both in terms of our nation's capacity to produce ethanol and in farmers' ability to supply the corn to feed those ethanol plants is really a remarkable story.
Producers' ability to grow enough corn for food and fuel
Our farmers have responded to these new market conditions by planting, as you might expect, an additional 15 million acres of corn-a total of almost 93 million acres today in all-which is corn acreage we haven't seen since prior to World War II.
Availability of corn for livestock feed
An important factor to remember in this debate is that we will be feeding more corn this year than we have in the past.
Concerns that demand for corn causes higher food prices

The argument runs that higher corn prices will lead to higher prices for animal feed and therefore, indirectly, to higher prices for meat and dairy products. Our economists, again, believe this has been overstated.
Impact of higher energy costs in food processing
We should also remember that food processing, packaging and transportation are all extremely energy intensive and are directly affected by higher oil prices.

Markets responding to changes and opportunities

And if you believe-as I do-in the power of markets to put resources to their best use, you should be very encouraged by the signs we see of vibrancy and growth in this market.

And finally, the secretary shared the administration's goal for renewable fuels:
I believe Americans want to see this nation boost our renewable energy production, to do it as quickly as possible, to meet ambitious goals like the one the President has proposed of using 35 billion gallons of renewables by 2017.

Source: USDA


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