Sunday, January 3, 2010

Christmas is over, and business is business. Let's out the new new Anti-Christ

I know I have called Government Sachs the Anti-Christ in the past. I find that I must now demote them to common "evil doer", or maybe a triumvirate in the Wall Street axis of evil... as soon as I figure out who the other 2 are...

Anyway, the NEW NEW Anti-Christ, "AC" for short, is the USDA (With the FDA as its Dark Arch-Angel). The U.S. Department of Agriculture. It is going to take several, perhaps even many posts to flesh this out - it is just not possible to heap enough scorn on these Sc*m B*gs in a single post.

The U.S. faces some SIGNIFICANT food insecurity. I know the loonies on the web have been pumping this for several years... but they got it wrong for the right reasons. Just kidding... they just got it all wrong.

The U.S. food supply depends on Corn and Soy Beans.

U.S. Corn production 2006 = 270,000,000 Metric Tons. That's 10,530,000,000 Bushels. 28,431,000,000 gallons (at 2.7 gallons per bushel), 676,928,571 Barrels per Year - 1,854,599 barrels per day (feel free to check my math). Even if the U.S. could consistently produce 300,000,000 metric tons, the barrels per day would only rise to 2,060,665.


During the most recent 4 week period the U.S. Dept. of Energy says that ethanol production was 787,000 bpd! In other words, the U.S. is currently using 42.5% of its corn crop to produce ethanol. Worse, while I have not found the smoking gun, it is my sense that I will find we have been drawing down our stocks of corn here in the U.S. If that turns out to be true... I'll skip the hyperbole (for now).

So where is the USDA in all of this? Have you seen any warning shots fired across the bow in the media? NAFC. The USDA is our first line of defense for food security - there is NO national security without food security.

More soon


bureaucrat said...

1) You're writing so fast you aren't labeling everything. 10.5 billion bushels = 24 billion gallons of what? :)

2) If you are going to be making this a multi-post topic, you MUST explain what corn we are talking about. 99% of U.S. corn is FIELD corn, which is NOT edible by humans in its original state (it is made into corn syrup, corn oil, etc.). 1% of corn is SWEET corn, which is the Jolly Green Giant corn in the cans that we can eat directly. Most (field) corn goes to animal feed.

You also have to explain how a lot of the field corn used to make ethanol can ALSO be used AT THE SAME TIME as feed for animals.

3) I doubt USDA has a problem with corn ethanol, so far as it goes. You know who has never ever supported corn ethanol in vehicles? ADM. I've been dealing with E85/85% ethanol as a vehicle fuel for 15 years, and ADM, the #1 maker of ethanol, is NOWHERE to be found. That's the real scandal.

4) I have no argument that there is not enough (field) corn, nor will there ever be enough (field) corn, to displace any meaningful quantities of gasoline and diesel. 15% at best if every corn kernel was made into ethanol, which is, of course, nonsense.

Ethanol is no replacement for oil-based fuels (the math is easy, but there are a lot of zeroes), but the idea anyone is going to starve because of ethanol is crappola.

Dan said...

A good place to look is the now defunct Strategic Grain Reserve, and the also defunct Farmer Owned Reserve. While I didn’t like the premise of the Farmer Owned Reserve it did ensure that there were stockpiles of grain stored on farms around the Nation.

Dan said...

“99% of U.S. corn is FIELD corn, which is NOT edible by humans in its original state”

You need to spend some time at the Jewel reading the labels. Most of the calories in the store are field corn, and that is just the labeled products. Throw in the corn fed beef, the organic veggies that are fed corn, etc and it’s probably over 75%.

Bill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill said...


The issue is not sweet corn. Your body carbon is almost all from field corn. Watch 'King Corn'.

If we took field corn out of our food system it would affect almost every product on the shelves. Especially the meats and processed foods.

Anonymous said...


You can't eat wheat unless you mill it either. Corn oil, corn starch, corn meal, corn flower, and corn syrup go into most every food you eat, unless it comes from the vegetable department. It is FOOD. Every kernel that is turned into ethanol is replaced by something else, for now. When there is no spare capacity left, there will be big problems. As it is, the price of grain is starting to track the price of oil, and that is not just due to the price of ammonia fertilizer.

Soybean oil for diesel fuel presents a similar problem. So does pillaging the rain forests to plant coconut orchards. Biofuels are a bad, bad idea. The Kyoto accords that have encouraged this are creating humanitarian disaster.

There doesn't have to be an actual food shortage to cause mass starvation. The price of food just needs to be to high for the very poor to afford.


Coal Guy

bureaucrat said...

From the National Corn Growers Association flyer "The Tale of Two Corns" (an admittedly biased source of information :)) ...

99% of corn is field corn (almost all going to livestock feed in some form) and 1% is sweet corn (a vegetable humans can eat directly), yadayada ... then ...

47% of field corn produced is for livestock feed (so, typically for meat production)

24% is for ethanol production AND production of high-protein livestock feed AND corn oil

19% is exported (Japan, Mexico, Egypt, Taiwan)

10% goes to a hundred uses: corn cereal, corn starch, corn oil and corn syrup, plastics and fabrics.

While I agree there is a meat production/field corn connection, and that without field corn we would have no Captain Crunch or Pepsi, the worst that could happen is we'd eat healthier corn instead of Doritos. Also, perhaps, indeed, the farms would have to go back to feeding their animals hay, as nature intended anyway. :)

Anonymous said...


Rousing the roost again?!

Eating healthy again? The reason most people are able to live( heart beat ),period, is the cheap,unhealthy crap. Remove that "cheap crap" and hell is sure to follow.


Greg T. Jeffers said...


The data you quoted is simply incorrect.

By my count in q4 2009, 40% + of the corn crop wen to ethanol production, and I have provided the numbers.

Their is a reason analysts have jobs... not everybody trusts the government's or lobbyist's numbers....

Thank goodness, or I would be asking:
"Would you like ketchup with those fries"?

Anonymous said...


The unhealthy food is cheap, good food is expensive tale is part of a continuing propaganda campaign to regulate the food industry, and what we may or may not eat. It is the most transparent farce going.

Go to McDonalds and buy a burger, fries and a soft drink. You get a 1.6 oz burger on a 3 ounce bun and a few ounces of potatoes boiled in oil, and a bunch of sugar water. It costs about $6 per pound. Most of it is bread. It's no good for you and it's expensive.

Then, go to Bur's local Jewel. Shop around the outside edge of the store. Boneless, skinless chicken breast will be on sale at least once a month for under $2 per pound. Same for boneless pork loin. The common vegetables, onions, carrots, celery, cabbage, potatoes, etc. are around $1 per pound or less. Dried beans and rice are cheap. Eggs, cheap. Milk, cheap. However, if you go to the center aisles, all the junk food is in the $6 per pound range.

Healthy eating is cheap, junk food is expensive. The problem is that when Mom and Dad come home exhausted from work every day, it's easier to throw a bag of tortilla chips and a can of cheese whiz at the kids than to cook a decent meal. Another unrecognized side effect of the feminist movement.


Coal Guy

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Coal Guy!

You go, boy!

bureaucrat said...

"Their is a reason analysts have jobs... not everybody trusts the government's or lobbyist's numbers...."

Well, if you don't trust government or industry numbers, just where do the analysts in your world get the data from? They running around corn fields with yardsticks from Maine to California? :)

A lot of peak oil writers depend on the EIA (government) numbers that come out every week. Alterna tive numbers are often incomplete or unavailable.

Remember that line from the JFK movie ....

"How do you know your daddy is your daddy? Cause your momma told you so." At some point you have to trust.

You can't allow paranoia and "libertarianism" to cross off any "connected government or industry" supplier of information all the time.

Hell, the ratings agencies supposedly didn't work for government nor "the industry," and yet they put the lipstick on the pig for all those toxic waste securitizations. Who you gonna believe?

bureaucrat said...

I think you have it reversed, Coal, or I have it reversed. Junk food is cheap, and that's why a lot of families who have to be cost-conscious buy the bag of chips for dinner. That's one reason why everyone is so fat. Healthy food costs more. If I get a 500 calorie cookie in my building, it is $1.15. A 500 calorie premium salad at McD costs $5-6. Eating well is not an exercise in cheap living. :)

Anonymous said...


Go to Jewel. Look at the price of a bag of chips: $3.89 for 12 ounces of starch boiled in grease. Then check out the price of a 5 lb. bag of potatoes. If you were watching your money, which would you buy?

Junk food ain't cheap. If you can afford to get fat at McDonalds, you aren't poor. Here is a chance to do your own research. Its easy. It's right in front of you every time you buy groceries. Wholesome food that you cook can easily cost 70% less than the crap they put in plastic bags. Go ahead and believe the journalist whores of the Left. Don't let the facts influence your opinions.

At the very very bottom are those who are eating a lot of pasta or cornmeal products that they cook themselves. It is a poor imbalanced diet that lacks in protein and vegetables. The high carb content can lead to obesity, but that is an even lower cost diet that what I'm talking about. It is NOT the problem in the US.


Coal Guy

Bill said...

I guess I don't understand how, if we put more corn into ethanol and there is less corn for food (processed foods and meat production) then how will food prices not go up?

tweell said...

'Puts on tin foil hat'
This run-up in oil substitutes was planned and pushed by the last administration, oil-men.
1. Is it possible that they were worried about peak oil?
2. How about their priorities?

Life as we now know it for Joe Six-Pack wouldn't be high on their list, or on any serious bureaucrat's. Severely constrained travel for the masses, enough for the military and the government, as well as the rich. I submit that we will be at that level of self-production soon, if you add increased drilling of known off-shore assets.

bureaucrat said...

I have to disagree that junk (fatty) foods aren't cheap. They are. What part of the steak is most valuable (the meat) and which is less valuable (the fat). I would agree that there is a convenience factor to some "prepared meals," but buying the fruits, vegetables, starches and meat for a balanced diet is going to be more expensive than a prepared bucket of fat, I believe.

Anonymous said...


I believe you don't cook much. You can make your own bucket of starch boiled in fat for 1/3 the cost. Convenience is THE factor. People turn to junk food because is is EASY and still affordable. It is just no match in cost or nutrition with what you can cook for yourself.


Coal Guy

tweell said...

There is a big difference in price between top quality steak, organic veggies, etc., and junk food, that's very true. There is a gap just as big between junk food and true subsistence eating.
Let's take Bureaucrat's $6 and see how far it goes, shall we?

1. Nice salad and bottled water - lunch for one.

2. Two sets of burger, fries, drink at McD's dollar menu - lunch for two.

3. A loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter and a jar of jelly, all generic, plus a gallon of water - lunch for eight.

Anonymous said...

1 can of tomato juice
2 29 oz cans black beans
1 lb ham steak
1 large red onion
1 green pepper
6 cloves garlic crushed
2 oz olive oil
chili powder, red pepper, cumin to taste

1 gallon of black bean soup. Feeds a dozen. Costs about $10.


Coal Guy