Food Scarcity and Ethanol Fuels?

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ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
2,169
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
Effective Nov 1, 2022 all gasoline sold in Canada must contain 10% Ethanol. In doing some reading the US EPA has also increased the amount of ethanol to be blended with gasoline in 2022 to 15 billion gallons. Fuel ethanol already consumes about 40% of US corn production.

Does anyone else have an issue with turning food into fuel? Especially given the situation in Ukraine? Is this a situation where millions may starve so we can fuel our cars?
 
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We don’t eat a lot of field corn directly. MS river being low has forced prices paid to farmers down as export capacity is reduce be the corn report is not great. https://www.nass.usda.gov/Charts_and_Maps/Crop_Progress_&_Condition/2022/IA_2022.pdf

Ethanol requirements are not a net carbon reducing action. It’s a subsidy for the the ag sector.

North American corn is not a staple of anyones diet directly. Not like wheat and rice anyway. Price of pork and beef and chicken will go up. But we should all eat less of that anyway;)

I have much stronger issues with the world response to the Crimean invasion of 2014 than I do with with burning corn. We have given a tremendous great deal of support to Ukraine but not enough to prevent wide scale suffering. Moving forward we may see some acreage shifts but winter wheat planting is done and I haven’t looked at the acreage reports to see if any shifts were made.
 
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Although field corn generally isn't eaten, it does displace other grains (like wheat) that are grown on agricultural land.

More wheat was grown in the 80's in the US than is grown today. In part because higher corn prices generate more revenue for farmers due to ethanol subsidies.

On the other side of the province we have an ethanol plant that almost exclusively uses wheat as a feed stock (we're too far north to grow corn). This plant will almost certainly increase its output to produce more ethanol to meet the new fuel standards.
 
Although field corn generally isn't eaten, it does displace other grains (like wheat) that are grown on agricultural land.
This is the real issue, if you can believe what you see on the news. Countless interviews with large farm operators, stating it's more profitable to convert prior food crop land to ethanol corn crop land.

I don't fault the farmers, I'd do the same. Companies (and farms being companies) exist to make money. The government needs to reconsider the impact of its subsidies and mandates, but they're really not incentivized to do this. Talking points always earn more votes than common sense.
 
Wheat is higher than corn at our local elevator. Milo high but down for the day. Family just sold a good bit this week.
 
Physiologically corn has a more efficient photosynthetic pathway (C4) than wheat that leads to 30-50% higher yield. That's one of the main reasons corn is such a favored crop by farmers.
 
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I believe C4 plants have an advantage with water too, but that’s just something stuck away in my head from long ago studies. Don’t take it as fact! Lol
 
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Dry land corn did well this year for us. 30 years no one was planting dry land corn in western Kansas.
 
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Dry land corn did well this year for us. 30 years no one was planting dry land corn in western Kansas.
That gets to the other big advantage corn has over wheat--being open pollinated instead of self pollinated, and having separate male and female reproductive parts makes it much easier to improve genetically through breeding and marketing F1 hybrid varieties. Average yield increase in corn year over year is approaching 2 bu, via traits like drought tolerance.
 
All that said, wheat is advantageous at least here in Ohio, where we double-crop soybeans afterwards. Per-acre profitability is superior with this, but we still rotate to manage nutrients-levels in the soil.