Due to rising oil prices in recent years, as well as an increased demand for ethanol, the prices of corn have gone up dramatically. (So have ethanol prices, jumping from around $1/gallon in 2004 to $1.75/gallon in 2005.) This is definitely good for farmers, many of whom are confident that they can continue to produce enough corn to supply the food industry and the fuel industry. A professor from Iowa State University stated that the majority of Iowa corn becomes feed for farm animals, or corn syrup for processed goods; reallocating the amount of corn going to these things could maintain enough for both ethanol fuel and human consumption. There are still concerns, however, that as ethanol becomes more popular and uses more of the corn supply, the US will not be able to export as much corn; in addition, fluctuating fuel costs could also lead to fluctuating food costs. In the short term, the demand for ethanol fuel is good for farmes; whether this is a sustainable option remains to be seen.
Yes, for the past thirty years corn farmers have received substantial US government subsidies for corn ethanol. As the demand for corn grew, farmers were able to increase the prices per bushel.
However, more recently there has been a backlash against corn ethanol. Environmental and humanitarian forces have decried the use of corn as a fuel source particularly when there is a global food crisis. The economic crisis has also precipitated the need to lessen the subsidies for corn ethanol by $6 billion in an effort to stem some of the deficit.
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