Sometimes you stumble upon a fact that really makes you think and provides a very good, new argument to a debate. That appears to be the case today regarding the food vs. fuel debate. This morning’s CommStock report referenced a report from a Dr. Neil Harl, distinguished professor in agriculture at Iowa State, that pointed out that the debate over food versus fuel goes back far beyond alcohol.
He noted that in 1920, 17% of U.S. farm acres were planted to oats that was the fuel for horses. They also consumed a lot of hay. Not until the transition to tractors did those acres produce food or feed for livestock. Even with alcohol, a much smaller acreage is being devoted to produce fuel than back then. Harl points out while alcohol costs more to produce than petroleum, it has fewer cost extremities such as the $84 billion spent by the U.S. military annually to protect oil infrastructure around the world that is not charged to the oil companies and should be.