Skip to comments.The unintended consequences of the ethanol quick fix
Posted on 07/26/2007 5:46:51 PM PDT by PJ-Comix
Grand Rapids, Mich. - Ronald Reagan once said that the most terrifying words in the English language are, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help." His one-liner immediately comes to mind when looking at the problems behind the federal government's campaign to boost production of corn-based ethanol with a massive 51-cent-per-gallon subsidy.
(Excerpt) Read more at csmonitor.com ...
Even assuming that retail milk prices were determined by the dairyman's cost of production (they aren't), the influence of the price of corn would be minimal. A Holstein dairy cow will produce about 8 gallons of milk per day. A $.50 increase in the cost of corn translates into an average increase in the cost of a lactating cow's daily feed ration of about $.15, or $.02 per gallon (and even that assumes the dairyman has no ability to substitute other ingredients such as ddg's in the ration).
I expect its pretty hard on the fuel pump and injectors as well.
The author of that piece is very intelligent. I like how he writes
>Only a fool would use his food for fuel.<
Particularly when it takes more petroleum to produce the equivalent amount of ethanol.
Talk about the dog chasing its tail!
Go look at the CBT charts and rethink your position...
How much corn do you think a lactating dairy cow will consume in a day?
I take it that you really don’t have a whole lot of experience in agriculture, do you?
Agave are dying from fungi among other parasitical attackers; they must grow to a certain age for tequila production so if they are sickly or dying they will never make an economical crop.
The soil best suited for agave is totally unsuited for corn; a lot of amendment and irrigation will be necessary to switch over.
Variable compression, variable injection engines will perform better with ethanol; ordinary engines will have less power and poorer mileage.
A 1950’s vintage naturally aspirated long stroke Offenhauser makes an ideal ethanol friendly engine.
You don’t seem to have any experience with logic from what I can tell.
Don't make bizarre allegations if you don't want to be called on them.
A lot of people don't realize that there's less energy in ethanol than in gasoline, and consequently, you burn more of it to produce the same work in an internal combustion engine. The more you burn, the greater the exhaust.
What nutrients do you think are removed from corn used as ethanol feedstock?
And Yes, sugar, and starch, and name even one common food product not effected by the price of corn — I bet you can’t.
Have you told us yet how much corn you think a dairy cow eats in a day?
I have used union 76 for years that does contain ethanol. I use it because Calif has MTBE in all the other gas and that stuff is deadly on the water systems let alone our lungs. I have not really found any problems accept that my fuel pump in my truck gas tank started to not hold pressure.
6 of the 10 products you mentioned use corn starch, corn oil, or sweeteners in normal commercial production.
(summer) lactating dairy cows.
Alfalfa silage 10.00
Corn silage 50.00
Shelled corn 10.00
Now I’m done with you.
And I'll be done with you (right after this post of course).
The USDA reports the average retail price of whole milk in the City of Indianapolis (my state capitol) this July to be $3.80 per gallon. At 8 gallons per cow, ole Bessie produces $30.40 per day in retail product. The cost to the dairyman, at today's CBOT close, for the corn fed to Bessie today was $.57
Corn planting is up 19% this year from last year. We will be up to our @sses in corn. It won’t affect food prices at all.
The whole story is a yawner.
I am still looking for the consensus of scientist who say a CO2 molecule from ethanol is better for global warming reduction than a CO2 molecule from gasoline. Gotta be some reason for this stupidity.
the middle men can raise the price and the consumer doesn't see it. Farmers work hard for their money, and nobody gives them credit for being productive....but non farmers can sure look down their collective noses at farmers and ridicule them as being country hicks.., and then they complain if the farmer makes a buck or two......sheesh.
The yield in ethanol per acre varies form 330 to 440 gallons.
As a farmer who sells feed (high-test alfalfa hay) to California dairies, here’s the secret of what causes milk prices to go up/down the most:
The numbers of fresh cows in milking parlors. Period, end of discussion. Feed prices aren’t the driving factor.
When the dairymen control the number of springers they’re going to bring on-line, they can keep milk prices high.
When the dairymen see high milk prices, they start raising a lot of heifers to add to their lines, and when those heifers drop, then they crater milk prices, usually within three to six months.
It’s the old saying: Show the American farmer a profit, and he’ll rather quickly show you a surplus.
Milk prices have been higher than they are now very recently. Matter of fact, it was only back in 2002/2003 that Class I milk was up at over $19/cwt in the CA market.
The price then promptly crashed downwards to about $10 to $11/cwt for 18 months, because too many dairy farmers expanded cow numbers too fast.
Last summer’s heat wave took out quite a few cows in the southwest, so dairy prices started going back up. The dairy co-ops started encouraging farmers to not replace milkers as they were culled in the last year, so they’ve re-established some profitable price levels for fluid Class I and Class III milk.
The price of the feed going into the TMR rations for milkers is a very small component of any increase in milk prices. Matter of fact, I can tell you what happens when there is an abundance of milk (and low fluid milk prices) and dent corn or corn silage prices go up: hay prices go down, because the dairy farmers try to screw the hay farmers out of pricing power for alfalfa hay as long as there is surplus hay out there.
Only when they got the number of milkers and replacements down to a point where they quit dumping milk at $10/cwt into the market did the price of milk start going up again.
BTW — as the price of corn goes up, you should see what the California dairymen substitute into their TMR’s: beet pulp, pumpkins, silage soybean mush, DDG’s, you name it. It is pretty humorous to watch .... unless you’re a hay farmer.
It is the source of the carbon that is at issue.
When you burn a gallon of crude oil, you’re liberating carbon that had previously been sequestered in the ground.
When you burn a gallon of ethanol or biodiesel, you’re liberating carbon from plant material, that is then re-sequestered in next year’s crop, and then re-liberated, etc, etc.
The point of bio-fuels is that the act of growing the bio-fuel feedstock takes CO2 out of the air and puts it into carbon in the plant matter, only some of which is then harvested and re-released back into the atmosphere.
With oil/natural gas/coal — the carbon is released, never to be completely re-captured.
Ethanol production has caused corn based livestock feed to go from $4.00 per 100# a year ago to $8.50 per 100# now. We are seeing this in the cost of meat, eggs, dairy products, anything that uses corn oil, or corn syrup and even canned corn and corn on the cob. Besides that, it’s more expensive than the gasoline that it is supposed to replace.
This has to rank up there with global warming as one of the stupidest things that has ever been perpetrated on the American public.
OK, what you have not explained is how you think ethanol is of any value in the energy equation, short or long term.
How is ethanol better than millions of barrels of oil? If, as you claim, we (the world) can’t ever produce enough oil to meet demand, then how can enough ethanol be produced to make a difference? Ever? Mathematically and physically that much ethanol simply can’t be made. Not now, not 10 years from now. It’s a pipe dream.
And as I said, fuel for cars is only one part of the petroleum equation in the world’s economy.
Particularly with beef cattle, a little extra corn in the ration has always been an adequate substitute for shelter during the winter. I don't let the girls in the basement yet, but by rearranging their winter pasture and suffering the labor of additional cleaning allows for a significant reduction in their caloric needs.
At $3.18 per bushel, corn tonight is worth $5.66 per cwt. If you’re paying $8.50, you might wanty to re-think your purchasing strategy.
Farmers’ received prices for all the things you mention have not kept up with inflation from the 70’s.
The current prices of corn (and on down the line) have not recovered to prices (adjusted for inflation) farmers received in 1973, when we went off the gold standard completely and the oil embargo started causing commodities inflation in earnest.
If we were to give farmers the inflation-adjusted price, per bushel, for dent corn that farmers were receiving in August of 1973, they would be getting just under $14/bu.
What are farmers receiving today, hmmm? I see that the September futures on the CBOT settled today about $3.21.
Less than 25% of what farmers were receiving for their product in 1973, if we adjust the value of the dollar for inflation.
And all you malthusians are running in circles, screaming and shouting about ethanol being a scam and how food prices are going up. Americans spend less of their paycheck, as a percentage, on food that ANY other industrialized society in the world, and you’d still be spending less than any other society if the prices went up by 25%. And you’ve got the balls to sit there, piss whine, moan and bitch about how much farmers are making. It isn’t just corn that has not kept up with inflation, either. Here’ a graph of slaughter steer prices from 1980 to this year. NB how through the 80’s, even as there was double-digit inflation in the early 80’s, cattle prices were cratering.
US farmers have the ability to take a profitable market and produce themselves into a losing market in only a couple of years. Doesn’t matter the commodity — if there is suddenly a big profit in cattle, corn, beans, whatever - you’ll see US farmers suddenly chase those profits and produce themselves into a surplus.
Recently, farmers are finally making a profit in some sectors. And all the American consumer wants to do is piss and whine. You consumers have this expectation that your W-2 wages will continue to adjust upwards to the cost of living increases, but the farmer can just go to hell when it comes time to keep up with the cost of inflation. And make no mistake — farming expenses are going through the roof: steel, oil lubes, rubber tires, equipment prices, diesel fuel prices, taxes, insurance, etc — they’re all going through the roof.
But when the farmer tries to pass those costs through to the consumer? Carping, whining and bitching.
If you look at a graph of of the CRB vs. US Treasury benchmark rates, you’ll see that the CRB finally decoupled from benchmark interest rates in 2002. Commodity cycles are 16 to 20 years long, and after farm commodities peaking in price back in ‘82, and cratering in ‘86 (and again in ‘98), the commodities markets are in their secular bull cycle. Ethanol is in the mix somewhere, but steel prices have nothing to do with corn for ethanol. Copper prices have nothing to do with corn for ethanol. Tire prices have nothing to do with corn for ethanol. Moly, nickel, zinc, lead, silver, gold, etc — all have nothing to do with corn for ethanol. They’re all on a tear upwards, in a bull market. American schlubs working in Cubicle-Land typically have no clue about commodities prices, because they now live lives completely insulated from anything dealing with the real physical world any more as so much manufacturing and “dirty industries” are moved off-shore.
Farmers see all these commodities prices going up, raising their input costs. In 2000, I paid only about $600 for a 18.4x38 tire. Today, it would be $1200, if I could get it.
Want cheap food? Buy your food from China. They’ll always want to be the lowest cost producer. They’ll provide you with all the food you want at the cheapest possible prices.
Yeah, thats the tale they tell, the problem is it isn’t true, since it’s only part of the story. There was an article that laid out all the particulars and proved that ethanol was a big loser when it comes to total carbon. They took into account that to handle corrosive alcohols you needed to make things like stainless gas tanks, stainless storage tanks, trucking fuel instead of pipelines, and different materials for hoses, fuel injectors, gas tanks, all adding to the carbon costs.
The land use issues were also considered and proved to be not very positive when you consider the massive amounts of land surface area required by an energy intensive growing process. Imagine the forests which need to be cut down for fields of grain. Net loss of carbon sink.
By the time you added it all up, it was a net negative for ethanol.
The most promising new fuel, as if we need one when we actually need new leadership in Washington to quell the hot air and globull warming BS, was in SITU RF processing of oil shales, and even old wells. The U.S. Green River Formations are said to contain about 800 billion barrels of oil that is recoverable from the oil shale. Using nuclear power for processing the oil shale is the way to go. Reprocessing old oil wells with the RF process is looking good — Makes more oil flow from the rocks.
The funny thing is no one wants to talk about the current “modern maximum” where the sun’s output seems to be nearing a 1000 year high — Especially in the last 50 years. I wonder why that is? Must not fit the socialists template.
We are going to need the CO2 when the next ice age shows up.
Please point this out to Mr Lucky - He seems to be a dairyman who operates on free money and no capital...
Oh, by the way...
Somewhere I had heard fifty - thanks for the correction - even 400 sounds like a not very efficient use of resources......
If that is not a complaint then just what is? That comment I made is more than suitable for your line of thought.
Look, unless you live in the mountain west, you probably don’t know the real history of “oil shale” the last time they shook down the taxpayers for trying to extract oil from shale.
The oil companies spent a lot of money.... and did nothing with oil shale.
Land use issues by academics and government pinheads mean nothing to me. The land in question isn’t owned by you, the government pinheads or these idiot academics. It is owned by the farmers.
Here’s a whopper of a clue: you don’t get to tell someone else what to do with their private property. If they want to grow nothing, or grow corn, it isn’t your business.
Here is a whopper of a clue, don't tell other people what they can and can't drive -- same deal as property rights. Food for fuel, very dumb idea, no matter who owns the land.
We have hundreds of years of Western coal to dig up and burn. Bring in the big boys with their big toys like this one
I think that statement is false - prove it. Furthermore, how much gasoline does it take to produce a gallon of gasoline and deliver it to the pump?
It would be fun to drive an Indy car to work!
I don’t want to tell people what they can/can’t drive. Personally, I have less than zero interest playing the part of a nanny-state buttinski. If people want to drive a Hummer — let ‘em do it. Just make sure that they’re the ones paying for it, not the rest of us.
I do, however, have to laugh at people who claim they want high gas mileage, buy silly hybrids, and then turn up their noses at diesel engines which would give them more fuel efficiency overall than they’re going to get from an Otto-cycle engine. Ethanol, mixed with gasoline, could provide the necessary octane boost to increase gasoline engine efficiency by increasing compression ratios. Sadly, only the Japanese seem to be smart enough to do this by shipping Miller cycle engines (Mazda and Toyota).
As for the whole “food for fuel” line of propaganda: I’ve addressed this on another thread. If we go back to pre-WWI days, the amount of land we are currently planting in corn (about 90 million acres) used to be planted to hay fields for horses. In effect, we (the US) have been here before. When there were about 27 million horses in the US, and 23 million of them were used on farms, we “grew fuel with farmland” in the form of hay.
All this screeching about “food for fuel being a stupid idea” is completely ignoring history. Even if we were devoting 100% of the ground planted to corn to ethanol, we’re only just now duplicating the land cropping allocations of 1915. Americans weren’t wanting for food back then, and they’re certainly not wanting for food today. Matter of fact, Americans would be well served by becoming as skinny as they were (on average) in 1915, compared to their rotundness today.
As to your post #22, you're correct. Most of the folks who claim corn is so energy intensive to grow don't grow corn and, in any event, the average suburbanite uses more gasoline mowing his yard than a farmer does planting an harvesting a 160 acre corn field (modern farm implements run on diesel, not gasoline).
That actually was a typo. The range is 330 to 440 galssons per acre. Alot.