Response to ‘Ethanol a sweet lie’

The evolving ethanol industry strengthens our states’ economy and energy independence.

In our work around the state of Minnesota, we have been very fortunate to see the positive impacts of corn-based ethanol production on crop and livestock farmers and rural communities. As one of the leading corn-producing states in the nation, Minnesota has greatly benefitted from the rise of corn-based ethanol. Minnesota currently has capacity for production of approximately 1 billion gallons of ethanol annually from 20 operating ethanol plants. This industry has provided improved markets and returns to MinnesotaâÄôs corn farmers and has also revitalized many rural communities and provided jobs and investment opportunities for numerous rural Minnesotans. In addition, the availability of distillers grains, a nutrient-densefeedstuff that is a feed co-product of the ethanol production process, has provided MinnesotaâÄôs livestock farmers a competitive advantage over areas where distillers grains are not as readily available. This valuable feedstuff is often overlooked as another useful aspect of corn-based ethanol production and contributes to the positive energy balance of corn-based ethanol. The assertion in the editorial that âÄúethanol is âĦ a primary contributor to soaring world food prices, as animal feed and commodity corn have grown costly with demandâÄù is an exaggeration of the truth. From late 2006 to late 2007, U. S. ethanol production capacity doubled from approximately 5.5 billion gallons annually to 11 billion gallons, yet corn prices only increased by approximately 50 percent from $2.54 per bushel to $3.88 per bushel. Since then, due largely to market speculation and increased corn exports, corn prices briefly saw all-time highs but have since settled back to around $3.50 per bushel despite further increases in ethanol production. These are hardly the âÄúsoaring corn pricesâÄù that are mentioned in the editorial. And even during the brief periods where corn prices were at record highs, it was our Minnesota farmers and rural communities who benefitted. We disagree with the statement that âÄúit has become abundantly clear that corn ethanol is not the answer for our cars, our economy or our environment.âÄù What is abundantly clear is that ethanol production is an evolving industry and is continually becoming more efficient and environmentally friendly. Because of this, corn-based ethanol should continue to play a key role in the quest for energy independence. Corn-based ethanol may not be the final answer in this quest, but it has undoubtedly laid the groundwork for further advancements that will bring us closer to that goal. The knowledge gained and advancements made with corn-based ethanol have brought about a new world of energy production that otherwise may not have been realized.