The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
To The Ethanol Soothsayers Wisdom of Barnyard Bruke
I've been noticing lately that a large number of journalists, green-leaning people, and general soothsayers, along with intellectual critics, have been bashing ethanol and other value added energy alternatives.
Being a farmer, I am particularly sensitive to those negative remarks that apply to ethanol.
I am fortunate to be one of a small number of the privileged few to have survived low commodity and livestock prices of the last several decades.
I've also observed many small communities deteriorate along with some of the important infrastructure associated with those communities.
Mom and pop grocery, small service stations, and important components that have made small communities attractive and worthy of raising a family in. I have observed our youth exiting these small communities from the lack of adequate income potential. When communities lose their youth, they lose their future.
Groups of individuals have banded together to attack these problems. They have formed commodity organizations such as corn growers associations,
soy bean associations, livestock associations, etc.
Additionally, they have gone on to search aggressively to promote and discover projects that would enhance the value of the farmers' production.
While producers wallowed in this depressed economic state, little was heard but lip service from groups who were not directly involved in organizat-ionssuch as Greenpeace, and environmental groups were basically silent about the plight of the farmer.
These same groups lamented certain conditions in their lives that they perceived were undesirable such as drilling oil in Alaska and efforts that would decrease our dependence for energy in countries that were unfriendly to the US.
Individuals, from producer groups, utilizing their own energy and resources including time and money, searched aggressively for alternative uses for their products. This was especially important since many nations in the world indicated they didn't want to buy their product if it was going to be bioengineered.
Many farmers - myself included - remember harvesting corn with tears in their eyes observing their fallen ear corn lying on the ground, the shank cut off by the corn borer.
They also remember corn lying flat and withered from the destructive effect of the corn root worm.
Additionally, it can be recalled, emptying pesticide sacks at springtime with dust blowing up in their faces with great concern of not only their health, but also the environment.
Seed companies and chemical companies combined efforts and came up with their own alternatives. These alternatives genetically fought off the ravishes of insect, drought, and low yields. In the meantime, tree huggers in Europe and Asia boycotted our products.
Taking lessons from former Presidents Nixon and Carter who felt the U.S. fed the world and chose policies to boycott or freeze prices as a method of food for peace, we learned these countries went to Brazil and developed an alternative source for their product they needed to feed their people.
Hence, soybean and corn production competed with the U.S. in South America.
Utilizing this lesson, the American farmer, in reverse, decided if Europe and Asia are going to boycott their bioengineered product, they will develop new alternative consumers of that product. Hence, the birth of biofuels and especially ethanol.
As a producer, I can directly observe the beneficial effects of the Ethanol industry in my higher prices received for my product.
In the meantime, I also observe companies such as Monsanto and John Deere recording record profits from the added income the farmer receives for his products.
As I watch various commentators, both written and oral, I see these very same people who sat idly by while we were seeing poor prices for our products, now complaining about the price of food.
They credit high priced food to ethanol, and yet we know that in a box of cereal the amount of corn or oats is less than the packaging and advertising.
We also know that the energy cost for transporting that food adds much more to the cost of that food than the grain import itself.
It's almost as if their thinking is the farmer signed on for abject poverty in exchange for the privilege of feeding the nation and the world. And, by gum, it is their basic purpose to see that they stay with its contract.
These very same people are very critical of the war in the Middle East.
At the same time, we know that big oil has a big influence on the policy in the Middle East. Those critics decry " Give us an alternative to the usage of oil in the Middle East!" And yet, they also decry that they won't allow exploration in important areas of our country. And yet, they offer no alternatives.
It reminds me of my good friend, a Scotsman, Cornelius Farkwad. Now old Cornelius felt like he should win the lottery. And he was a faithful church goer, a defender of the church, and had served his god faithfully. He felt he had earned the right to win the lottery praying to his god.
The lottery came and left without his winning. Now this upset old Cornelius. He prayed directly to his god listing the merits of how faithful and good he had been and insisting that God award him by allowing him to win the lottery.
But it never happened.
Cornelius was much upset. He verbally exclaimed that he was giving up his faith.
At that instance out of the sky a large black cloud opened up, and out of it came the voice, "But Cornelius, Give me a chance. You have to buy a ticket first!"
Now, Cornelius reminds me of these soothsayers and down-players who attack the industry of ethanol. While they don't want to see young girls and boys fighting in Iraq, they are not giving a chance to prevent such activities and won't even consider ethanol as an alternative energy source.
They say there is not enough corn. They say it raises the price of food. They say it is inefficient, and not cost effective and on and on they go.
I, barnyard Bruke, with over 40 years of farming experience, proudly proclaim that the American farmer will produce enough corn for the market place if he is only given a chance for a decent profit.
If corn inflated at the same rate as other sectors of the economy, such as the automobile, gasoline, food, and clothing, then corn would be priced much higher than it is today. So, I say, give us a chance as producers and allow us to have a fair profit.
I have even read of intellectuals that attack ethanol and its conversion from corn. I can only say that if I were going to battle in the trenches of warfare, that I would want somebody with the practice and usage of modern weaponry, and who actually had seen combat.....somebody by my side that had actually used a rifle. I would be less inclined to invite somebody to defend my back who had merely read about fighting battles at a far-off distance.
Many of these professors and intellectuals had never put at risk ventured capitol, nor had they sought out with their direct sweat and blood to develop beyond state-financed income, an idea that would put them at risk. Their cautions on ethanol carry little meaning to me as their results of their lack of direct experience:trench warfare.
Book learning is fine, but it needs to combine with experience. Much of what I see in their criticism of ethanol clearly defines their lack of direct experience in ethanol.
And yet, I, Barnyard Bruke, am asked by these intellectuals and judo alternative thinkers, "to wait patiently" as I have for the last 40 years in abject poverty, while they teach that they are looking for a solution.