The Fuel Vs Food Myth

  • Tuesday, 26 August 2014 00:00

At last week's National Conference of State Legislatures (2014 NCSL), we met a few state legislators who opposed the production and consumption of ethanol based on the false assertion that there is more corn being produced for ethanol than it is for food.

Thankfully, none of these state legislators were from Minnesota (or even the Midwest). And while we have an entire section in this website devoted to the "Fuel vs Food" debate, we instead pointed them to the USDA's recent announcement on corn output for the year. 

According to the USDA, corn output is estimated at a record 14.03 billion bushels, which is 172 million bushels higher than the previous year's output. The amount used for ethanol and it's co-products is estimated at 5.07 billion bushels. For every bushel of corn that is used to produce ethanol, approximately 30 percent is used to produce dried distillers grains.

As such, only some 3.55 billion bushels of corn is used to produce ethanol. This in turn, is the equivalent of 25 percent of total corn output. Thus, claiming that more corn is being used for ethanol instead of food is clearly false and one that seems to be built on fiction rather than ract.

Moreover, it has to be pointed out that the USDA's estimates indicates that there will actually be an oversupply of corn, which further disqualifies any notion that the agriculture industry is producing more fuel than food. It's also worth noting that this oversupply has had a negative effect on corn prices (remember how ethanol keeps getting blamed for high corn prices?).