A national study finds consumers are spending more money on household energy than food. Robert White, operations director for the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council, says record high oil prices are hurting consumers and businesses, as gasoline prices are up 65-cents a gallon in Iowa from a year ago and heating oil prices are rising as well.
"You’ve got some outrageous numbers of how oil prices continue to drive up the energy sector," White says, "some of them as high as a 50-percent increase in some levels of the industry. When you look at consumer goods, 81-cents of every retail dollar spent on food now goes into the processing, the packaging, the distribution and marketing cost." He says a lot of that cost is being blamed on ethanol but that’s just not the case.
White says many Iowa farmers are planning to switch corn acres to soybeans next year, but he says it will not have a huge impact on ethanol production. He says you don’t need corn to make ethanol. White says: "We have a couple of plants that are using wheat and barley. There are just more than feedstocks than what we are traditionally used to and those are growing in numbers. At the same time, we have some cellulosic ethanol plants that are starting to go under construction to reduce some of that pressure on feedstock issues. I think the ethanol industry, as it always does, rallies and we’ll have enough product for the consumer."
White says the next time you pull up to the gas pump, consider filling your tank with an ethanol blend. He says: "When you’re at the local retail gas station, choose ethanol-blended fuels. Ethanol is helping diversify our fuel supply. More than five-percent of the U.S. fuel supply is made up of ethanol now saving consumers almost 20-cents a gallon just because the ethanol is there whether they use it or not."
White says Americans are shouting for solutions to our dependence from foreign oil and ethanol could easily be the answer.