Ethanol: The Fuel That Powers Putin

Koval - Single Grains

David Frum may be an Axis of Evil asshole, but he is right sometimes. In this case, re: the ridiculousness of US ethanol policies.

The Atlantic reports:

The United States is supporting Ukraine with aid and weapons and punishing Russian aggression with financial and economic sanctions. But the United States can do more to resolve the global crisis caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine: It can end the ethanol program.

For decades, the U.S. government has, at great expense, encouraged farmers to grow more corn so that it can be turned into ethanol, a gasoline additive. Ethanol makers receive all kinds of grants and subsidies. Federal regulations require ethanol to be blended into gasoline, creating a giant industry that would not exist without large subsidies and imperious mandates. America’s largest ethanol company earned annual revenues of $8 billion pre-pandemic. Demand from the ethanol industry, in turn, bids up the price of corn, and the income of those who farm it.

Ethanol has become a Washington joke. John McCain often quipped that he started his day with a glass of ethanol. Who could blame him? The ethanol program is a giveaway so big, so entrenched, and so wasteful that laughter might seem like the best response. But as we laugh, we’re missing that America’s ethanol madness has strengthened Russia’s grip upon the world’s food supply.

(click here to continue reading Ethanol: The Fuel That Powers Putin – The Atlantic.)

America could grow much of the world’s wheat, but we’ve incentivized farmers to grow corn for ethanol instead…

Wheat Reaping Threatened by Visa Cap


Another reason for immigration reform: costs of commodities like wheat are going to be significantly higher if there aren’t enough workers come harvest time. You’d think the rural GOP from mid-America places like Iowa would be cognizant of this problem, instead of letting racists like Steve “Cantaloupe” King dictate immigration policy.

Alan Bjerga of Bloomberg reports:

Great Plains wheat-cutting teams, once filled by U.S. farm kids, now rely on foreigners for about one-third of the workers who cut grain sold to Cargill Inc. and others, according to trade group U.S. Custom Harvesters Inc. The highly skilled itinerant workers, a little-noted component of the immigration overhaul struggling through Congress this year, have become essential to the nation’s $17.9 billion wheat crop. “Wheat has a relatively short window to be harvested, so you need to have enough people available at the right time,” said Terry Kastens, a retired economics professor at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, who surveys combine operators.

Proposals in both houses of Congress to impose a cap on the number of work visas available to agricultural laborers may leave harvesters out of luck if the quota is already filled before they arrive for the season that begins in May. Rural Economies Costs would go up without the harvesters, harming rural economies, Kastens said.

One cutting crew will serve dozens of farms, helping to keep smaller operations in business by saving capital costs for farmers who then don’t need to buy their own combines, he said.

Afrikaners — South Africans of mostly European ancestry — have a special advantage because the U.S. summer months coincide with their winter, meaning they can harvest at home and then hit the road. And they speak English. They bunk with crewmates in a mobile trailer and earn a little more than $20 an hour, hauling combines that can cost $350,000 in semi-tractor trailers across the Plains with stops in dozens of fields.

(click here to continue reading Afrikaners Reaping Colorado Wheat Threatened by Visa Cap – Bloomberg.)

The Sky Is Folding Under You
The Sky Is Folding Under You