Food is scarce enough in Haiti, Indonesia and Afghanistan to cause rioting in those countries. Food is expensive enough everywhere, including the U.S., to cause consumers to worry about the future – will the prices go even higher for eggs, milk, bread, meat, etc.?
Year over year, the price of rice is up 10 percent, a loaf of white bread up 16.3 percent, eggs up almost 30 percent – with recent increases pushing these figures ever higher. Press reports indicate that warehouse stores are rationing rice and flour.
Given the trends, how will we afford food in the future? Will there be enough food at any price? Will food riots come to my neighborhood market? Will Ted Turner’s prophecy of “cannibalism” come true?
What happened to cheap and abundant food? What happened to the cornucopia promised by the “Green Revolution”? What happened to the corn?
Al Gore took it. It’s an “Inconvenient Truth,” says Al, “that the gasoline that runs our cars is ruining the planet, causing global warming.”
Responding to this threat, about 30 percent of the U.S. corn crop last season was diverted to ethanol production, mandated and subsidized by the government. The goal was to use less gasoline, reduce CO2 emissions and lessen our dependence on foreign oil.
After all the cost and effort, gasoline use was reduced only about 1 percent. However, corn prices shot up, causing a ripple effect for all food products containing corn from flakes to tortillas. Then wheat prices went up, too, because less wheat had been planted to make room for the mandated and subsidized corn.
In spite of these consequences, the all-but-tied Democratic presidential contenders, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton advocate more biofuel production. Both would expand the 2005 mandate to 36 billion gallons by 2022, rising to 60 billion gallons by 2030. With the Iowa (corn growing state) primary looming last January, Obama advocated expanding the federal mandate for corn-based ethanol, and Clinton switched her 2005 opposition to mandates to support.
The Republican nominee, John McCain, lost the Iowa primary, famously opposed to biofuel mandates and biofuel subsidies and tariffs. He would abolish the $.51 per gallon subsidy the federal government pays to fuel blenders for using ethanol and the $.54 per gallon tariff imposed on imported ethanol, such as Brazilian sugar cane based ethanol.
Today, both Clinton and Obama are silent about the food price spike and the biofuel mandates and subsidies that partially caused it. Conveniently, Al Gore refuses to answer questions about this as well. Apparently, for all three, it’s a “never-mind” moment.
Obviously, the biofuel fad is not the only factor pushing food prices higher. Demand for more and higher quality food from newly middle class Indians and Chinese is another factor as is the cost of fertilizer, storage and transportation which in turn is driven up by the spike in oil prices.
Demand is what it is – people with money will want to eat better. Oil costs are also a product of rising demand, exacerbated by the power of the OPEC cartel which we refuse to challenge by increasing drilling on now forbidden oil deposits here at home. Reagan did just that after the 1980 election. Acting on Reagan’s proposal, the Democratic Congress rolled back Carterite “excess profits” taxes on Big Oil, opened up promising public lands to drilling, and oil dropped to about $10 per barrel by 1983.
In 2006, Nancy Pelosi promised a Democratic Party plan to reduce high gas price – which then were about $2.30/gallon. The Democrats won the election and took control of the House. Today, with gas at $3.50/gallon, nobody’s seen this Democratic plan. What the Democrats championed and passed last December was an “energy independence” bill containing new taxes on Big Oil, money for “alternatives” and conservation – but no drilling and no new energy. Meanwhile the higher price of gasoline costs the average American family an additional $1,500/year.
Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama – when will you realize the damage your ideas have done to every American consumer?
The net effect on consumers is pain at the pump and at the supermarket. And the pain doesn’t get any easier knowing that it’s largely self-inflicted.
Related special offers: