Friday, January 24, 2014

Top Three Headlines on Brownfield This Morning

Propane shortages prompts call for help

Biofuel supporters rally in Des Moines

Nebraska's ag director defends ethanol

Given the hypothesis John offered yesterday that increased corn production for ethanol might be contributing to the tight propane supply, I found these story lines thought-provoking.

We know already that ethanol as a fuel requires nearly as much if not more energy that it produces.  It is viable only when heavily supported by government subsidies.  A free market solution would reject it.  There are biofuel possibilities that ought to be pursued, such as producing bio-diesel from various organic sources.  Turning corn into ethanol for bourbon is one thing.  Turning it into a fuel to burn in cars is something entirely different. 

This is driven by Big Ag corn-growers who like the prices they are currently receiving.  Agriculture conglomerates like ADM (infamously profiled in this 1995 Cato Institute Study) are often the beneficiaries of these policy decisions.  As far as I know, nothing much has changed since James Bovard wrote this nearly twenty years ago.  If anything, the situation has worsened.

I really wish more American voters would educate themselves on the sad state of agriculture in our country.  We do "feed the world", but it comes at a very high price to taxpayers and to freedom.  It cannot be sustained.  The Department of Agriculture should be shut down, and the few useful things -- like meat inspections -- it carries out should be transferred to the states.  Government needs to get out of farming.  The big boys can survive on thinner margins, or even losses, when they get their corporate welfare, and small farmers have been increasingly driven out because they can't compete in that environment. 

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