Food Prices: Through the Roof Under ObamaIn these days not only of higher fuel but higher food prices, it bears noting that one of our two major-party nominees has major ties to companies that are a huge part of the problem of increasingly excessive food costs:
Mr. Obama is running as a reformer who is seeking to reduce the influence of special interests. But like any other politician, he has powerful constituencies that help shape his views. And when it comes to domestic ethanol, almost all of which is made from corn, he also has advisers and prominent supporters with close ties to the industry at a time when energy policy is a point of sharp contrast between the parties and their presidential candidates.
Nowadays, when Mr. Obama travels in farm country, he is sometimes accompanied by his friend Tom Daschle, the former Senate majority leader from South Dakota. Mr. Daschle now serves on the boards of three ethanol companies and works at a Washington law firm where, according to his online job description, “he spends a substantial amount of time providing strategic and policy advice to clients in renewable energy.”
Mr. Obama’s lead advisor on energy and environmental issues, Jason Grumet, came to the campaign from the National Commission on Energy Policy, a bipartisan initiative associated with Mr. Daschle and Bob Dole, the Kansas Republican who is also a former Senate majority leader and a big ethanol backer who had close ties to the agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland..
In today's oil climate, virtually no one opposes the research and development of alternative fuels. Many of us warned, however, that the increased use of corn-based ethanol could unwittingly drive up the overall price of food. Corn is the food staple in this country, and has been even before European settlement, so any research into corn-based alternatives must be diversified with other alternatives, and plenty of them. As much as I like Bob Dole personally, his ties to ADM have always troubled me, because ADM will do anything to inflate the price of corn. As someone whose politics are by nature sympathetic to agricultural interests in general, I want our family farmers to get a fair price. If food prices are overly high, this tends to benefit huge conglomerates like ADM and hurt small farmers. In addition, higher food prices leads to people purchasing less at once and decreases demand-which really hurts the small farmer.
There are cheaper and more energy-efficient ways to get ethanol than merely from corn, but we aren't hearing about these alternatives from the Obama camp:
“We made a series of mistakes by not adopting a sustainable energy policy, one of which is the subsidies for corn ethanol, which I warned in Iowa were going to destroy the market” and contribute to inflation, Mr. McCain said this month in an interview with a Brazilian newspaper, O Estado de São Paulo. “Besides, it is wrong,” he added, to tax Brazilian-made sugar cane ethanol, “which is much more efficient than corn ethanol.”
John McCain is right-we're keeping sugar-based ethanol off of the American market and subsidizing the corn product, which is largely contributing to the destabilization of the food market. No word from the Obama campaign on how the Savior plans to deal with the further price hikes his corn ethanol obsession will create.
Higher food prices are being brought about not only because of higher fuel prices (that is a contributing factor) but by increased demand for corn for non-food purposes. Rather than promote diversity in our search for alternative fuels, Barack Obama has chosen the singular path of close ties with the corn-based ethanol industry. If this were to continue under an Obama administration, it could mean vastly higher grocery bills for you and me.
That sounds like a wonderful vision for the American economy-long lines around the corner at food pantries.