Readers of my blog may remember my warning last year about possible food shortages. Well, CNN is reporting that the worst drought in more than fifty years has pushed up U.S. corn prices 50 percent in the last six weeks, potentially leading to a spike in food prices across the board. While the government can’t do much to make it rain, it can ease the plight of both farmers and consumers by ending policies that make the crisis worse.
One immensely damaging policy is the Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires ethanol to be blended into gasoline. Along with other members of Congress, I have been warning for years that the RFS boosts food prices and suppresses corn production, as a rising share of the corn crop – currently 40 percent – is converted to ethanol.
In the Ways and Means Committee last year, we helped to cancel the ethanol tax credit. But that is not enough; with price shocks and food shortages looming, we need action now. As more than 100 of my colleagues and I argue in this letter, the Obama administration must immediately ease the ethanol mandate, as it is entitled to do when the RFS stands to inflict severe harm on the economy.
It’s time to admit the truth – the government’s experiment in using food for fuel has failed.