Errors filled AP ethanol piecePublished 10:54am Thursday, November 14, 2013
An anti-ethanol attack piece from the Associated Press that hit the airwaves on Tuesday made a number of claims about ethanol and farmers that simply weren’t true. It’s important that a few of these claims get corrected.
First, farmers grow enough corn to feed the world and fuel our cars. We don’t need to pick one over the other. Every 56-pound bushel of corn that is made into ethanol also produces 17 pounds of high-protein livestock feed. The AP reporters were aware of this, but chose not to include it in the story. The vast majority of corn is still used for livestock feed, not ethanol.
Second, farmers are not plowing up fragile lands in order to plant more corn. Minnesota farmers lead the nation with over 2 million acres enrolled in USDA’s Conservation Stewardship Program. A recent Minnesota Department of Natural Resources study showed Minnesota gained more than 2,000 acres of wetlands from 2006-11. Farmers also use less nitrogen fertilizer today than they did in the mid-1980s even though the crop is significantly larger.
Finally, corn prices are currently around $4 per bushel, the lowest they’ve been in a long time. Yes, prices were up the last few years, but that was because of massive drought in the Corn Belt, not ethanol.
As a corn farmer myself, I’m proud of what I do and the progress we’ve made in balancing conservation practices with production. It was disappointing to read the AP’s story that got so much wrong about modern farming and ethanol.