Ethanol Producers Go Too Far

SpamLunch.jpgFrom the Friday, May 25th, StarTribune:

Hormel Food Corp. cut its annual profit forecast Thursday, with the company blaming the increase in corn prices because of demand for ethanol production.”

It’s one thing when 75,000 people in Mexico City protest the rising price of tortillas (allegedly caused by the consumption of corn by ethanol producers) but when Austin, Minnesota’s Hormel gets hit, we’re going to take notice. Now we’re talking Spam, not the internet kind, but the stuff that comes in those cool cans that open with an attached key.

My dimmest memories of Spam are from family camping trips in the mountains and on the beaches of Virginia. We used to have it fried with eggs for breakfast on these exciting excursions when I was in elementary school.

Of course, it really became part of my permanent cultural literacy when Monty Python did the skit that included the Spam chant that turned into a song (and I guess eventually a Broadway show). My familiarity with the actual product gave me a bit of street cred when I was in high school in Massachusetts.

With this latest blow against Spam, I’m wondering if Bruce Morlan might be onto something with this vegetarian conspiracy theory.

4 thoughts on “Ethanol Producers Go Too Far”

  1. Let the Mexicans grow their own corn! I say let spam go the way of the Dodo bird. Spam is an unhealthy food. The good thing about ethanol is the rising price of corn. But the actual cost of corn is only about 1/5 the total price of the product at the market. It’s the high price of gas and increasing labor that is causing food to go up. Plus, higher food prices may mean that we will eat less, making our nation healthier, resulting in lower medical costs. Did you ever think of that?

  2. Hey Ken:

    You bring up a peck of good issues here.

    I think that the Mexicans do grown their own corn and were protesting Mexican corn being exported to American ethanol plants. I guess the market is determining this trade transaction.

    Gosh, there’s a lot of unhealthy food that is pretty tasty. Everything in moderation, eh?

    Higher prices on food and gas, eating less and walking more…you’re right, there could be some silver linings.

    Thanks for commenting,

    Ross

  3. I understand from those who understand the issues in the upcoming Farm Bill legislation that one reason we have an immigrant problem from Mexico is because we currently dump corn in Mexico and Mexican farmers can’t compete with our prices that undercut what they can grow their own for…hence they can’t make a living at home and have to come here. If we stopped dumping corn there, it seems it would go a long way to solving our immigration woes. One only tends to go somewhere else to make a living if you can’t make a living at home. If you can make a living at home, you tend to stay there.

    There is a teach-in on the farm bill this evening (May 31) at Just Food Coop and another session hosted by the League of Women voters on June 25 at the Library.

    This is an omnibus bill that may well be the most far reaching piece of domestic legislation that congress enacts. The current bill is full of bad policies. Everyone needs to understand what’s at stake. I urge everyone to get familiar with it.

  4. This is certainly a complicated issue.

    As was reported months ago, approximately 75,000 people in Mexico City protested the rising cost of tortillas, as summarized by the New York Times:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/01/world/americas/01mexico.html?ex=1327986000&en=3e1fadc41a37e9e9&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&pagewanted=print

    According to the BBC, Mexicans are protesting the rise in tortilla prices due to the shortage of corn, perhaps because of U. S. ethanol production, and President Calderon is ordering the importation of corn to ease the shortage:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6319093.stm

    Global Voices on-line suggests that your thesis is supported by some analysts, giving it a positive spin by hoping that ethanol’s hunger for corn will keep the subsidized American harvest out of the Mexican market:
    http://www.globalvoicesonline.org/2007/02/06/mexico-ethanol-boom-inspires-protest-and-hope/

    Finally, the Organic Consumers Association supports Ken’s call, in a manner of speaking, for greater corn production in Mexico:
    http://www.organicconsumers.org/chiapas/031203_chiapas.cfm

    Phillip, maybe you can update us on this story after your session tonight.

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