FROM Bruce Babcock
Is Ethanol Doing More Harm than Good? Under federal law since 2007, gasoline in America has been blended with more and more corn-based ethanol every year. President Obama has been a major supporter but today, for the first time, his Environmental Protection Agency will reduce the mandate . A political explosion is already underway in Washington, pitting corn producers against an unlikely alliance, including oil companies and environmentalists. Is ethanol failing to help clean up the air after all? Is excessive corn production threatening the environment? What's likely for the price of gasoline?
Drought Slashes Crop Production, Pushes Up Food Prices The Agriculture Department reported today that his year’s corn yield is the lowest since 1995, resulting from the nation’s worst drought in 56 years. Corn prices have set a record, which could mean higher fuel prices, and there’s concern about food shortages elsewhere in the world.
Drought and King Corn More than 1000 counties in 29 states – the most ever -- have been declared natural disaster areas. This year's drought is making Midwestern cornfields look like the Dust Bowl of the 1930's. With both food and energy dependent on corn, is America over-reliant on one crop? Will prices rise at the grocery store?
Drought: A Slow-Moving Disaster Corn is basic to America's diet, from feed for all the animals we eat, to cereal and even Gatorade. We also depend on fuel from corn-made ethanol. This year's drought is making Midwestern cornfields look like the Dust Bowl of the 1930. Will prices rise at the grocery store? Because of American corn exports, the impact could be worse overseas. But, for some American farmers, there's surprising prosperity. We find out why.
The Farm Bill: Real Reform or Political Bait and Switch? Every few years, Congress takes up the massive Farm Bill, with members of both parties loading it up with pork barrel spending. The latest version — totaling almost a trillion dollars -- passed the Senate today on a vote of 62 to 36. It now goes to the House. Earlier this week, Senate Democrats defeated Republican amendments for cuts in food stamps. We hear why it's important and what its chances might be.
The Farm Bill: Real Reform or Political Bait and Switch? Every few years, Congress takes up the massive Farm Bill, with members of both parties loading it up with pork barrel spending. After George W. Bush vetoed the Farm Bill in 2008, the Senate over-rode him with 82 out of 100 votes. This year, the bill totals almost a trillion dollars with passage expected before the end of this week. It's the historic epitome of pork barrel spending — but, in this era of partisan gridlock, it's also a sign that the parties can get together if only they want to. Direct payments to farmers are being abolished, but critics complain that new subsidies for crop insurance are really the same thing. Will a last-minute fight over food stamps derail the last major legislation expected to pass before the November election?
Rising Food Prices: Has Ethanol Backfired? For 30 years, food prices have been declining worldwide, so much that, in western countries, obesity has become a major problem. But it appears that the era of cheap food has come to an end. As prices are rising all over the world, many Americans don’t have enough to eat. The latest report from the Department of Agriculture finds that almost 11% of American households experience "food insecurity" for part of the year. Thirteen million families don't have enough to eat. Food banks that serve hungry people are not getting the donations they need to do their job. The Farm Bill increases money for food stamps and other programs. Will that make up the difference? Will massive support for corn-based ethanol make things better or worse?
Mixed Messages from US diplomats on the new hard line on Syria Since President Trump's surprise retaliation against Syria's use of chemical weapons, Bashar al-Assad has used the same airport to launch conventional attacks on his own people. It's not clear what the US, its allies — or Vladimir Putin's Russia -- plan to do now.
Does 'hire American' mean fire a foreigner? US companies are allowed to hire employees from other countries with highly developed skills that can't be found here. President Trump says it's being abused as a way to find cheap foreign labor. We hear about the benefits—and the risks—of changing the H-1B program.