Rethink ethanol policies

Rethink ethanol policies

Dallas Morning News: The legislators negotiating a new farm bill evidently don’t do their own grocery shopping.

Otherwise, they’d have seen the dramatic rise in food prices. And they’d have done more than trim only about $400 million from the $26 billion in direct payment subsidies they’re planning for farmers. Nor would they have insisted on a new $4 billion permanent disaster fund for ag producers.

Congress is working feverishly to finish this lousy bill, which we hope a presidential veto deeply buries. President Bush rightly warned legislators about giving farmers big payments to grow crops such as corn, cotton, soybeans and rice. The subsidies directly affect the prices you’re paying at the grocery story.

Bread prices are rising because farmers make more money growing corn than wheat. Congress has mandated several billion gallons of ethanol by 2009, which means there’s a huge market for corn; it’s the main way ethanol gets produced here.

Fortunately, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison are connecting the dots between Washington and the grocery and feed stores. The two Republicans are pushing Congress to ease off the federal mandate to produce so much ethanol.

We concur. Along with replacing crop subsidies with better crop insurance, Washington should rethink those ethanol numbers, at least until there are other ways to produce the fuel.

These changes could help the pocketbook at the grocery store and feed store. Regrettably, that doesn’t seem to be on the minds of the folks writing that farm bill.

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