Scientific Concepts Have Been Pushed Beyond Most People’s Understanding — And Definitely Beyond Any Politician’s Understanding.
Ethanol contains about 70% of the energy contained in an equal volume of gasoline. Because ethanol contains less energy, it actually displaces only about 3.5% of gasoline by energy content. That is the only measure the engine cares about — Useful Energy. Since ethanol contains less energy per gallon, the consumer will need to buy more gallons to drive the same distance as when gasoline is used.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005, mandates that, starting in 2006, the average gallon of “gasoline” must contain 2.78% ethanol.
Now You Compete With Your Car For Food
Pilgrim’s Pride, the largest US chicken processor, announced that it is closing a North Carolina chicken processing facility. This move is another verification that farming, energy, and food are closely connected. The company announced that it will also close six distribution centers due to increased feed costs. Feed costs have significantly increased over the recent year and are squeezing profit margins for all livestock and poultry processors.
Corn and soy meal are the main ingredients in poultry rations. Demand from the ethanol industry has increased corn prices. At the same time, competition for farm land to grow corn and soy has increased prices for these and other grains. Closure of this facility will reduce Pilgrim’s Pride’s processing capacity by about 1.5% and the industry’s capacity by about 0.4%. Pilgrim’s Pride’s decrease in chicken production will increase chicken prices for all consumers.
This plant closing will have a small impact upon industry capacity and increase poultry prices somewhat, however it is an indicator of the trend to close food processing plants in favor of opening ethanol plants. The grains that would have been used to feed chickens and other livestock will instead be used to manufacture ethanol. Ethanol production will increase due to government subsidizes and legislation mandating that more ethanol be used in cars.
This production pattern change from food to ethanol is an indicator of changes to be made by Pilgrim’s Pride and other food processors to curtail production and cut costs. In the coming years there will be less chicken to eat and more ethanol to fuel vehicles. Hungry drivers may have ethanol to fuel their drives to grocery stores, but they may not be willing to pay the high prices for chicken when they arrive.
All mixtures of gasoline & ethanol contain less energy than pure gasoline. Therefore, vehicles must burn more mixture to travel the same distance on the same amount of gasoline. Mixtures of ethanol & gasoline should reasonably cost the consumer less in order to make up for the decreased energy content.
Producing enough ethanol for a 10% stretch of our gasoline supply would likely end most corn exports. That is about two-billion bushels now. That reduction would require planting on marginal acres not used now, and lead to high corn prices that would disrupt the economics of meat and dairy production.