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Letter to the Editor: Response to ethanol editorial

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It is understandable to look for a quick fix to help relieve the stress caused by this year's historic drought. However, several comments in the Aug. 22 editorial, "Ethanol mandate," stand to be corrected.

According to the USDA, if the farm price of corn increases 50 percent, then retail food prices as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increase by 0.5 to 1 percent. Even at $8 corn, your box of cornflakes contains about $0.12 of corn while a pound of hamburger contains only $0.37.

It's also important to keep this year's crop in perspective. Although yields are expected to be the lowest in 17 years, farmers nationwide are still expected to harvest the eighth-largest crop on record. Also, a conveniently overlooked fact is only a portion of the corn kernel is used in ethanol production. One-third of the corn used for fuel re-enters the supply chain as distillers grain, a high-protein livestock feed. Omitting this inflates ethanol's impact on corn supplies.

The article also noted ethanol "provided minimal relief at the pump." However the latest research conducted by economics professors at the University of Wisconsin and Iowa State University found ethanol reduced wholesale gasoline prices by $1.09 per gallon -- saving families an average $1,200 per year. Hardly insignificant.

Repealing the Renewable Fuel Standard because of one tight year is far more shortsighted than continuing to use domestically produced, renewable ethanol to expand options at the pump and reduce our country's dependence on foreign oil.

JIM STUEVER, Dexter, Mo.