August 18, 2019

Ethanol & Energy Policy- Impact on Farm Bill?

Dan Morgan, writing in today’s Washington Post, reported that, “Corn farmer Jim Handsaker has found a slew of ways to ride the heartland boom in biofuels that is reshaping the economy of rural Iowa.

“He sold some of his 2006 crop this year for more than $4 a bushel, the highest price in a decade. His stake in two nearby ethanol plants brought in several thousand dollars more in dividends. Meanwhile, soaring farmland prices have pushed the value of the 400 acres he owns to around $2 million.

“Even so, come October he will get a subsidy check from the government, part of a $1.6 billion installment that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will send to corn farmers.”

Yesterday, USDA indicated that corn prices, although on a slight downward trend, remain relatively high by historic standards. Meanwhile, the graph below, from The Wall Street Journal Online, demonstrates that ethanol prices are heading in the opposite direction.

The Post article indicated that, “Those annual automatic payments to Handsaker and thousands of other prospering corn growers have long been controversial. But coming at a time when taxpayers are already subsidizing the ethanol industry to the tune of $3 billion a year, the double-barreled support system for those who grow corn and those who turn it into fuel has begun to draw fire in Congress.”