To Bail Out the Country, Stop Bailing Out Corn

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In lay terms, a bailout is just another kind of subsidy. We’ve been bailing out corn, which appears in everything from soda to ethanol, since around 1933. Why not pull the plug on one bailout–corn–to finance the current one? From the Environmental Working Group:

Over the past twelve years, taxpayers have spent $56 billion on corn subsidies paid to over 1.5 million recipients, making it the top crop for federal assistance. Wheat subsidies ranked second, which paid $22 billion to more than 1.3 million recipients, followed closely by cotton subsidies, which provided $21 billion to over 247,00 recipients over the period.

Wired reports:

“We’re seeing that corn is the number-one reason that fast food is so cheap and available,” said Meredith Niles, a food policy analyst at the Center for Food Safety who was not involved in the study. “U.S. programs are subsidizing obesity in this country.”

Another article claims that…

…a little noticed analysis buried in an April 2008 report from the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA)1 shows that the corn-based ethanol industry received $3 billion in tax credits in 2007, more than four times the $690 million in credits available to companies trying to expand all other forms of renewable energy, including solar, wind and geothermal power.

Corn ethanol subsidies will cost taxpayers a whopping $5 billion in 2010 if they are continued at current rates.

Corn ethanol is an inefficient, carbon-munching source of renewable energy. It eats up as much diesel and natural gas to produce as it saves in the end. Heavy subsidies incentivize Midwestern farmers to grow ethanol cash crops in place of food. We already eat corn-fed beef, eat chocolate with corn syrup, suck on throat lozenges containing the stuff. There is no need to put it inside our cars, too.

Subsidizing corn accomplishes nothing. The government needs to get smart and stop doing it. The cash flow diverted from corn can then subsidize things we actually need.

And right now, we need many things more than we need ethanol.

  • But corn ethanol is greener…wait what? It’s not?

    Corn ethanol subsidies have to be one of the least thought through propositions of all times.

  • Biofuels is enormously immoral waste of resources. It takes up to 9,100 litres of water to grow the soy for one litre of biodiesel, and up to 4,000 litres for the corn to be transformed into bio ethanol. What is meant to ease a critical ecological problem (climate change) is building another, even more serious problem (water shortage) worse.