Letters to the Editor

Dollars and sense of producing more corn

I’m concerned about the welfare of our farm communities. I’m not sure corn ethanol is supporting our agricultural communities. The average selling price for corn in 1975 was $3 a bushel. I did the math to calculate costs and yields and found an average 345 acre farm could make $43,125 in 1975. Today, the selling price is $3.79 a bushel. The average 345 acre farm can make $22,314. The U.S. family poverty level is currently $23,850, it was $5,038 in 1975. What is happening in our rural communities is alarming and it affects all Iowans.

Converting environmentally sensitive land to grow more corn for ethanol does not make sense. It is not growing stronger farm communities. We need to amend the Renewable Fuel Standard to not include annual row crops. This intense land conversion (1 million acres since 2005) has led to worst ever water quality in Iowa. Our fetid water flows downstream and the hypoxic dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is getting worse. So, who is benefiting? Not the farmers, not Iowans, not fishermen or endangered sea turtles. Apparently large seed and chemical companies are profiting; the costs to farmers has tripled since 1975.

Let’s support growing renewable fuels from native perennial sources like switch grass. Let’s also support the Conservation Reserve Program, which supports native grasses that store carbon in the soil, filter chemicals that pollute water, and provide wildlife food and cover, and farmers get paid real money not lies. It makes sense for everyone.

Laura Waldo-Semken

North Liberty

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