Friday, December 30, 2011

Corn People and Corn Cattle

It is that time of year again.  It is corn time.  Not the corn growing season, of course, certainly not here in Vermont.  It is corn season because the Iowa Caucus is approaching and politicians just love corn this time a year.  To survive in Iowa, you have to express your undying love for corn, corn subsidies and ethanol.  Ethanol is a dead-end environmentally, but that doesn't matter to our so-called liberal president, he supports it.  At this point, it seems that only Fox News thinks Obama is a liberal.

In 2008, John McCain was the only major candidate to be honest and come out against corn.  Of course, in the Iowa Caucus that year he came in a distant third to Huckabee and Romney, confessed corn lovers.   More recently, in this year's Republican Primary race, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty promoted "phasing out" corn subsidies.  What happen to him?  He dropped out of the race after a very poor showing in the Iowa Straw Poll.  Why is the Straw Poll so important?  With such a poor showing, donations to his campaign would dry up.  

Newt is crazy about corn subsidies.  He finds it to be a national security issues.  He wants us to wean off oil and pump ethanol in our cars or heat our homes with it but that would require much more land to be farmed than is possible.  This is just another nutty, Newty idea that has little basis in reality.

The US is, by far, the largest producer of corn on the planet, producing almost half of the supply.  The US has 400,000 farms growing 10 billion bushels, using 72.7 million acres for cash receipts of $15.1 billion.  Corn and soy beans are our two biggest crops. Where does all this corn go?  Very little of it is for direct consumption of humans.  32% are exported overseas, 18% of it goes to sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup and then rest goes toward feed stock for cattle.  Most of our overseas corn goes to feeding cattle as well. Corn fed cattle grow faster thus costing less money.   

The digestive systems of cattle aren't exactly equipped for all this grain.  They usually feed on grass, but most cattle in the US have a diet of at least 90% corn feed.  This causes ulcers in the animals among other things.  To combat the illnesses they are given antibiotics.  70% of the antibiotics used in the US are used by the meat industry.   You feeling a hankering for a burger about now?  No, worries, even farmed salmon are fed corn now.  

1 comment:

Olga said...

I like corn in August. Otherwise, I wish it was not so prevalent in our food. It's why I want to be a vegetarian.