When Congress passed its latest energy bill four months ago, the provision to boost ethanol requirements was exceedingly popular. But now, critics are lambasting that measure, and the ethanol movement in general, for linking skyrocketing food and oil prices. “We used to have a grain economy and a fuel economy,” one analyst tells the Washington Post. “Now they're beginning to fuse.”
Now consuming 25% of US corn crops, ethanol is pushing the demand for corn through the roof, and the resultant price increase is rippling through the food industry. Meat and dairy farmers are paying more for their livestock feed, and everything from cereal to soda is hit by corn syrup and cornstarch hikes. “As long as you keep that ethanol industry running, grain prices will be high,” said one economist.