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Ethanol push has livestock producers worried

by 5m Editor
26 February 2007, at 9:15am

US - No one questions the need to reduce the nation’s reliance on foreign oil. But pushing ethanol as the solution has people like pig farmer Ken Doyle worried.

Dan Kallal of rural Chesterfield in Macoupin County, who co-owns and operates Kallal Brothers Inc., where they raise grain and livestock, holds a 6-week-old crossbred pig. Their operation raises about 9,000 small hogs

Doyle, who runs Hickory Grove Pork Farm between Carlinville and Gillespie, said production of ethanol stands to deplete the corn stock that livestock farmers count on to feed the animals that feed much of the world.

"Those of us that are well-fed and warm at night don’t consider the impact an increase in feed prices will have globally," Doyle said. "That is a rather sobering aspect of this that the press isn’t covering. Right now we have all these politicians beating on their chests speaking about how wonderful it is to have alternative energy, but there is a downside for the hungry of the world that is quite frightening."

Controversy remains over the use of America’s fertile cornfields as the best and most economical means to replace gasoline. The demands are having an impact on livestock producers, consumer food prices, exports and world food banks.

While ethanol-related industries and the National Corn Growers Association have asserted that corn-guzzling ethanol demands outlined under President George Bush’s energy plan can be done, even the president recognizes it may be difficult to meet his goal of 7.5 billion gallons of ethanol by 2012.

"Ethanol produced today comes from corn, and we’ve got hog growers and chicken growers that need corn to feed their animals," Bush said while speaking at a DuPont plant in Delaware last month. "Therefore it’s going to be kind of a strain at some point in time on the capacity for us to have enough ethanol to make us less dependent on oil."

The National Pork Producers Council praised Bush’s perception of producers’ plight.

In testimony Jan. 10 before the Senate Agriculture Committee, the National Pork Producers Council cited several concerns for pork producers with the boom in ethanol production, including increased feed input costs, diminished corn stocks and issues with using distillers grains, an ethanol byproduct, in swine diets.

Steve Ring, general manager of Hog Inc. in Greenfield, a Greene County-based cooperative composed of about 100 pork producers whose principal business is the manufacture of feed for hogs, said many pork producers were not counting on how quickly the market would respond to the ethanol boom.

"We are facing a new dilemma. In 2006, the country raised the third-largest corn crop in history. Because of the current and projected demand from the ethanol industry, corn prices are the highest they have been in 10 years," Ring said.

Source: The Telegraph

5m Editor