Richardson: The Hidden Cost of Ethanol Subsidies

There has been much talk in recent weeks about corn subsidies in Iowa: Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty had the guts to suggest the elimination of the subsidies in the heart of the Corn Belt, and Sarah Palin has also mentioned an end to farm subsidies as well.

It would seem corn is back on the radar after having fallen off after the 2008 election, when ethanol was no longer a convenient club with which to beat the Bush administration.

Before that particular fight was over, however, former President George W. Bush had signed legislation which required 40 percent of the U.S. corn harvest to be slated for ethanol production, and for massive subsidies to make corn economically viable.

We are now reaping the unintended consequences of those decisions. Accepting as fact that American farmers are the most productive in the world, and also accepting as fact that the agriculture sector is one of the few sectors of the economy which is performing well, we’re still faced with a problem.

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