US Ag secretary denounces ‘food versus fuel’ debate

07 February 2013 18:18  [Source: ICIS news]

LAS VEGAS (ICIS)--US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said on Thursday that farmers produce more than enough corn for domestic consumption, exportation and ethanol creation, adding that the “food versus fuel” debate is a myth.

The “food versus fuel” debate centres around the proposed risk of diverting farmland to grow crops for the production of renewable fuel such as ethanol instead of using it for food.  

“[The ethanol industry is] challenged by those who perpetuate the false debate that somehow you’re asking this country of plenty ... you’re asking us in this country of extraordinary farmers ... the most productive farmers in the world ... some folks are asking us to choose between fuel and food,” he said during the keynote speech of the National Ethanol Conference in Las Vegas.

“You know that’s not true,” he said. “You know that since American agriculture is the second most productive aspect of our economy since 1980, we’ve been able to produce enough corn to meet our domestic needs, to continue to export, but also to use it for fuel.”

The corn supply was severely threatened in 2012 as the result of one of the worst droughts in history, and the quality and yield of the crop was poor.

As a result, corn prices skyrocketed, and many ethanol plants have since had to idle or cut production.

Analysts are expecting a bumper year for the corn crop in 2013, with record acreage and yields, as long as weather patterns normalise.

By: Bobbie Clark
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