Does ethanol cause competition between fuel and food? Livestock producers think so. Faced with the current widespread drought, the National Pork Producers Council, the National Chicken Council (no, really!), the National Turkey Federation, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, and several other livestock, dairy, and poultry organizations are petitioning the Environmental Protection Agency to waive the federal ethanol mandate. That federal rule currently drives more than a third of America's corn crop into our gas tanks. With grassland drying up, folks raising critters need more affordable corn for feed.
I really look forward to hearing our Congressional delegation figuring out which competing interest to side with on this issue.
Ranchers seeking reliable feedstocks may want to look to a new prairie preservation program forged by a coalition of government agencies and conservation groups in Minnesota. A $3.5-billion investment will help acquire, protect, and restore 2.2 million acres of prairie in one large, connected nature preserve. The plan will keep the corn-economy from tearing up any more land for Monsanto monoculture. But it's no purist hippie vegan plot: recognizing that bison grazed the pristine prairie as an integral part of the ecosystem, Minnesota will encourage livestock producers to graze their critters on the protected land.