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Ethanol a Popular Target of

Ethanol a Popular Target of "Thinkers"

Posted on July 30, 2012 at 4:47 PM by Iowa Corn

This article was orginally published here on The Farmer's Exchange on Friday, July 27, 2012. Clayton Rye is a farmer from Hanlontown, Iowa. He can be contacted by e-mail at

A drought can sure change everyone's attitudes and thoughts.

Sixty days ago, I was thinking about the chances of selling corn for over $5 and trying to keep my corn sales over that mark. My last new crop corn sale was January delivery for $5.34 a bushel on June 21 and I was happy to take advantage of that because a few weeks earlier, the market had slipped under $5 a bushel.

Today, that January contract is priced at $7.51 and I am not selling because I am hoping to have enough corn in my bin to cover what I have already contracted, which is about one-third of a normal crop.

While $7 corn is a great temptation, I would rather sell what I know I have for $6 than what I hope I have for $7, or even higher if it does not rain.

My soybean sales are in the same place. I have new crop soybean sales in the area of $11 a bushel. I never thought I would have a chance to sell new crop soybeans near $16 a bushel. When I had the chance, I passed on it because I had no idea how many bushels I could sell.

We have all heard,"Be careful what you wish for because you might get it."

I enjoy wishing for higher prices, but this is not the way I wanted them to arrive while looking at withering crops.

The people I depend on to be users of my crops are not happy either. Livestock producers and the ethanol plants, along with foreign buyers and many more, look at these prices and wonder about the future just like I do.

Then along comes an article in a recent Forbes magazine with the words, "Let them eat ethanol" in the title. Oh, great, another deep thinker who is doing nothing more than repeating what we have heard in the past about the evils of using corn for fuel.

Here we go again. Sure enough, the author complains about how $8 corn means people will starve.

Never mind it was ethanol that was going to help me keep my corn sales around $5 a bushel only several weeks ago because it provided a solid 5-billion-bushel demand for corn.

Prior to ethanol, we were growing corn crops of around 8 billion bushels a year. Now we are producing 12-billion-bushel corn crops, with around one-third of those 5 billion bushels returning to the food supply as a high quality livestock feed.

The amount of corn available to the food supply is close to the same today as it was before ethanol became a force in the market. The author seems to have missed that point.

And, of course, there had to be the reference to the amount of water used in creating ethanol, another threadbare old claim that has been disproven. But when you are using emotion to sell your story, facts become secondary.

I would have expected more from a magazine such as Forbes, as this is the stuff of late night talk shows that specialize in fear mongering.

What it means is that we ethanol supporters still have not done our job in getting our story out to the general public.

Until we work to dispel those old rumors that keep coming back to haunt us, ethanol will be an easy target every time corn prices go up.

And when corn is cheap once again, and it will be, when we corn growers are trying to cover our costs to just stay in business, do not look to Forbes magazine or anyone else for any sympathy. That does not sell magazines.

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