Ethanol

ETHANOL….Thanks to the ethanol boom, the Washington Post reports that:

most farmers earned between $100 and $400 an acre on their 2006 crop after expenses, depending on whether they owned or rented their land. That translates into profits of $100,000 to $400,000 on a 1,000-acre farm. The USDA predicts that net farm income will be $87.1 billion this year, up nearly 50 percent over 2006.

Iowa farmland values are up 18 percent in the past 12 months, according to Federal Reserve Board surveys, making millionaires on paper out of any farmers owning 200 acres free and clear.

And what’s our legislative resonse to this? “A House-passed farm bill would give corn growers $10.5 billion over the next five years, even if prices stay high.”

Terrific. Let’s see: (a) environmentally speaking, corn ethanol is a pretty dodgy idea in the first place, (b) we’re subsidizing it anyway to the tune of $3 billion per year, (c) farmers, as you’d expect, are responding to the subsidies by reducing the amount of farmland used for food production, (d) this is driving up the price of staple food worldwide, and (e) we’re going to toss another $10 billion in ag welfare to already-rich corn farmers on top of all that. Jeebus. Can anyone think of any other single policy that has as many simultaneous baneful effects? Are we complete morons?

No, don’t answer that.